Fungus infections can affect the nails, hair and sometimes the entire body. The fungus that affects the entire body is known as tinea corporis. Sometimes it is also referred to as a ringworm infection, but it has nothing to do with worms. The name refers to the circular ring like rash.
The fungus infects the superficial skin and produces an intense red itchy rash. The rash is easily recognized by a red circular ring and normal healthy skin in the middle. The fungus which causes the body rash is very similar to the one that causes athlete's foot and jock itch.
Tinea corporis can affect any part of the body including the legs, arms, chest, abdomen and back.
The skin rash is not a serious health issue but can be irritating and annoying.
The rash is suspected when one has the following features:
- a circular rash that has red edges with normal skin in the middle
- ring rash on the chest or face
- itchy skin
- single or multiple ring patches
- swellings and blisters may also occur
In some individuals, the skin may itch and be red but the typical ring appearance is missing.
Tinea corporis or the body fungus is very contagious and can easily spread from individual to individual with relative ease. Any type of skin contact can lead to transfer of the fungus.
In some cases, the body fungus is acquired from animals such as pets. The fungus does live on animals and can even cause infections in animals.
In rare cases, the fungus may be acquired from inanimate objects like personal health care products, towels, clothing, bed linen or combs.
In a few cases, the fungus is acquired from the soil. This usually occurs in farmers and gardeners who are in contact with soil for prolonged periods. The fungus love moist and wet soil.
Individuals at risk for the body fungus are
- Those who sweat profusely. The sweat wipes away the protective oils on the body and makes the skin more susceptible to the fungus.
- Athletes are more prone the body fungus. Athletes usually sweat, are around humid and moist environment such as locker rooms, swimming pools and wear tight constrictive clothing
- Children are also prone to body fungal infections. Outbreaks of the fungal infection are common in day cares and nurseries. Children who have pets are also at a high risk for skin fungal infection.
- Those who are immunocompromised
Most cases of mild ringworm infections can be treated with topical anti fungal medications but severe cases may require oral therapy.