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Ringworm-Symptoms, Causes, cure and treatment of Ringworm, Home remedies of Ringworm, Ringworm in Dog and cat

Meaning of Ringworm

Worms have nothing whatsoever to do with this condition; ringworm is shallow

fungus infection of the skin. The designation "ringworm" is derived from the characteristics red ring that appears on the skin.

Ringworm can generally be recognized by its pattern of development. The lesions begin as small, round, red spots and get progressively larger. When they are about the size of a pea, the center begins to clear. When the le­sions are about the size of a dime, they will have the ap­pearance of a ring. The bor­der of the ring will be red, elevated, and scaly. Often there are groups of infec­tions so close to one an­other that it is difficult to recognize them as individ­ual rings.

The medical term for ringworm is "tinea." (Tinea gets us back to worms. Tinea is the Latin name for a growing worm.) Doctors add another word to indicate where the fungus is located. Tinea capitis, for instance, refers to scalp ringworm, tinea corporis to fungus of the body, tinea pedis to fungus of the feet, groin - jock itch or tinea cruris and so on. These infections are caused by several types of mold-like fungi called dermatophytes (pronounced: der- mah -tuh-fites) that live on the dead tissues of the skin, hair, and nails.

Ringworm may also affect the scalp or the nails. These infections are more difficult to treat but fortunately are not seen very often. Epidem­ics of ringworm of the scalp were common many years ago

Symptoms of Ringworm

The skins lesions that appear with Ringworm are variable, and do not necessarily form a ring. There will be hair loss, usually in small patches at first as time goes on the patches may disappear or appear at other locations on the skin. There might be scratching due to itchiness. If the hair loss occurs on the face or feet there is a chance it is due to digging habits or exposure to rodents.

This patch is typical of the lesion seen in Ringworm. A diagnosis of this disease cannot be made based just on the appearance of this lesion because other skin conditions (Demodex for example) can show similar lesions.

Causes of Ringworm

The fungus that causes ringworm is spread from one person to another. Sometimes this happens through direct contact. An infected person may touch someone who does not have the disease and directly transfer the fungus to the second person.

At other times, the fungus is transferred indirectly. For example, people with ringworm may leave the fungus on towels, hairbrushes, or other objects. A second person may then pick up the fungus while handling these objects.

Certain conditions increase the risk of spreading the fungi (more than one fungus) that cause ringworm. These include dampness, humidity, and dirty, crowded living conditions.

Prevention of Ringworm

To help prevent ringworm, try the following suggestions:

•  Avoid sharing anyone else's clothing, shoes, towels or personal-grooming items (hairbrushes, combs, makeup brushes).

•  If your child goes to sleepover parties, provide a sleeping bag, pillow and blanket from home.

•  Bathe regularly and dry your skin thoroughly afterwards. Be especially careful to dry the area between your toes and under your breasts.

•  Wear clean socks and underwear every day. When possible, choose absorbent cotton socks and underwear rather than synthetic fabrics. At the gym, keep an extra pair of socks in your locker to replace sweaty socks after a workout.

•  Wear sandals, flip-flops, shower shoes or other protective footwear when you walk through locker rooms or shower rooms or near pools.

•  If you care for a pet or farm animal that develops areas of hair loss or scaly patches, take the animal to a veterinarian for a checkup.

Diagnosis of Ringworm

Diagnosis is usually made based on the appearance of the typical ringworm rash.The diagnosis of ringworm can be confirmed by scraping the scales, soaking them in a potassium hydroxide solution and viewing them under the microscope. Some doctors may culture the scrapings. I f infections involving the scalp, a ultra-violet light (called a woods lamp) will cause affected hairs to become fluorescent. The woods lamp is used to make diagnosis; it does not treat the ringworm. Ringworm of the scalp must be treated by griseofulvin, taken by mouth, usually for month; this medication is also effective for fungal infection of the nails. Ringworm of the scalp should never be treated with x-rays

Treatment of Ringworm

For most types of ringworm, treatment is with antifungal drugs in the form of skin creams, lotions or ointments. However, for widespread infections or those affecting the hair or nails, an antifungal drug in tablet form may be taken.

Treatment of small, uncomplicated lesions located in areas other than the scalp is by topical antifungal preparations

Lesions of the scalp, regardless of severity, should be treated with oral antifungal medication.

Griseofulvin (Fulvicin, Grisactin) may be required at high doses due to poor absorption. Itraconazole is another antifungal agent that can be taken orally. Oral antifungals and corticosteroids are indicated for treatment of widespread, severely inflammatory infections and potentially scarring lesions.

Home Treatment of Ringworm

Tolnaftate ap­plied to the skin is an effec­tive treatment for ring­worm. It is available in cream, solution, and pow­der and can be purchased over the counter. Either the cream or the solution should be applied two or three times a day. Only a small amount is require for each application Resolu­tion of the problem may re­quire several weeks of ther­apy, but improvement should be noted within a week. Selsun blue shampoo, applied as a cream several times a day, will often do the job and is less expen­sive) ringworm that shows no improvement after a week of therapy or that con­tinues to spread should be checked by a doctor.

Ringworm in dogs and cats

The problem with this disorder is that there are 35 different species of ringworm that can affect cats, dogs and be transmitted to humans as well. All animals, unless they are immuno-supressed, eventually become immune to ringworm and do not show further signs of the disease.

In the cat, the cause of more than 90% of cases of ringworm is the dermatophyte Microsporum canis (M canis) . This organism can also cause infection in many other species, including dogs and humans. Other dermatophytes that may cause ringworm in cats are Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Microsporum persicolor , which can be acquired by contact with infected wild rodents. Ringworm is contagious. Usually a dog or cat will catch ringworm from either another animal, or from an infected place - such as a kennel, cattery, calf shed, stable, fence post etc. Wooden buildings will carry ringworm spores indefinitely.

Spores are the infectious stage of dermatophytes and are produced by M canis during an infection. They are typically found in clusters around infected hairs and can only be seen using a microscope. Infected hairs are shed into the cat's environment. Cats may become infected either by direct contact with an infected animal or by exposure to a contaminated environment or object, such as grooming tools, clippers or bedding. The disease in dogs and cats generally appears as a red, crusty, rough area of skin with broken hairs and hair loss with very little pruritus, or itching, associated with the infection.

The appearance of cats with ringworm is very variable. Some cats have severe skin disease while other cats have only very minor lesions or no lesions at all and look completely normal. Typical skin lesions are discrete, roughly circular, areas of hair loss, particularly on the head, ears or extremities of the paws ..  Due to the susceptibility of young animals, the disease is more common in puppies and kittens. Ringworm is generally seen in kittens before their immune system is fully developed or in adults who have been immuno-compromised by stress, disease or disorder. Ringworm in dogs and cats is contagious to people, especially children.  I t is necessary to use oral medications to cure cats chronically infected with ringworm. It is also important to get the spores out of the environment since susceptible cats can get reinfected. Cats can carry this infection without any visible signs of infection so it may be best to treat all the cats. Vacuuming the house daily, changing the vacuum bag each time, is helpful dogs often have a single lesion and it is most common in puppies and immature dogs. Minimizing exposure to other dogs or cats and to your family members is recommended during this period. Topical shampoo therapy is used in almost every case, especially in longer haired pets Specific anti fungal crèmes are also used when a pet is infected in an area that already has sparse hair growth, or there are small, discrete lesions. Chlorhexidine shampoo is also effective as is also a relatively new 2% miconazole shampoo. If the infection is severe, oral griseofulvin is effective but costly.

Home Remedies of Ringworm

•  Raw vegetable juices , especially carrot juice in combination with spinach juice, have proved beneficial in the treatment of ringworm. The formula proportions considered helpful in this combination are 300 ml of carrot juice and 200 ml of spinach juice to make 500 ml or half a litre of juice

•  One of the effective home remedy for ringworm is mustard seeds . A paste should be prepared from these seeds and applied externally over the ringworm patches after thoroughly washing the skin with sufficient hot water

•  Raw papaya is one of the most effective home remedies for ringworm. The slices of this fruit should be rubbed on the ringworm patches. A paste made from dried papaya seeds can also be applied beneficially on these ringworm patches

•  The leaves of the cassia tree are useful in irritation of the skin and in alleviating swellings and pains. The juice of these leaves or a paste made from them can be applied to ringworm patches with gratifying results

•  The leaves of holy basil are also useful in ringworm. The juice of these leaves should be extracted and applied over ringworm patches

•  Turmeric is very effective in the treatment of ringworm. The juice of raw turmeric should be applied externally to the parts of the skin affected by ringworm. Simultaneously, one teaspoon of turmeric juice mixed with an equal quantity of honey should be taken orally

When to Call a doctor

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have symptoms of ringworm that involve the scalp or beard. For other forms of ringworm, call your doctor to see if you should be seen in the office or if the problem can be treated over the phone.

If your immune system is weakened by illness or medication, contact your doctor promptly wh0enever you develop any unusual skin symptoms. In particular, people with diabetes should have skin symptoms, especially on the feet, checked as soon as possible.

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