Dermatophytosis, or ringworm, is a common fungal infection of the skin. It is caused by three different genera of dermatophyte – Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton (Scher et al., 2013). Most commonly, ringworm infects the nonliving parts of the skin hair or nail, and usually infects only the top layer of the skin – the epidermis (Scher et al., 2013). The characteristic ring pattern of the infection occurs because the infectious agents invade in a centrifugal pattern, which then causes the host immune system to create a border with increased numbers of epidermal cells (Weese & Anthony, 2013). It is this that causes the common scaly feeling associated with ringworm, and acts as a type of defense system for the skin. Symptoms mainly depend on the area of the integumentary system that has been infected. In the case of the feet, for example, ringworm can lead to athlete’s foot, whereas when nails are involved there may be a discoloration of the nails that leads to them falling off (Weese & Anthony, 2013).
The main symptoms that patients will see are red itchy ring-shaped rashes that are usually redder at the outside edges. These patches may also lead to blistering (Scher et al., 2013). Another common symptom is bald patches if the infection affects an area of the skin with hair (Scher et al., 2013). As noted above, changes in the nails, such as crumbling and yellow discoloration, can also be indicative of dermatophytosis infection (Weese & Anthony, 2013). It is important to keep the infected area clean and dry during treatment as these infectious agents prefer moist areas. It is also important not to share personal items with others as it is highly contagious. In some cases, the infection can also be passed between humans and animals (Weese & Anthony, 2013). Dermatophytosis is incredibly common and it is estimated that around 20% of the adult population has an infection at any one time (Weese & Anthony, 2013).
- Scher, R. K., Rich, P., Pariser, D., & Elewski, B. (2013). The epidemiology, etiology, and pathophysiology of onychomycosis. In Seminars in cutaneous medicine and surgery (Vol. 32, pp. 2–4). Frontline Medical Communications. Retrieved from http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/fmc/scms/2013/00000032/A00102s1/art00002
- Weese, J. S., & Anthony, A. Y. (2013). Infectious folliculitis and dermatophytosis. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice, 29(3), 559–575.