Ringworm and jock itch are two contagious infections which are caused by a fungi. It is important to treat fungal infections as soon as possible, to prevent the infection spreading to other parts of your body or infecting other people.
Ringworm and jock itch are both fungal (tinea) infections which affect the skin.
There are a number of fungi which can cause these infections. Fungi belonging a group known as dermatophytes, including Microsporum, Epidermophyton, and Trichophyton, are often responsible for causing fungal infection in the skin.
Both ringworm and jock itch are contagious and can be passed on to other people by sharing towels, items of clothing, bedding, or facilities, such as changing rooms. Given the right conditions, the fungi can live outside the body for over a year.
Despite its name, ringworm is not a parasitic worm. Ringworm gets its name from the visible sign on the infection - a red ring. Also known as dermatophytosis, ringworm can be passed on from animals and infected surfaces.
Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a fungal infection which affects the groin area. Akin to ringworm, a circular rash is usually the sign of a jock itch infection.
Jock itch gets its name from its prominence in athleticism, similarly to how athlete's foot (tinea pedis) got its name. It is often caused by tight, clothing or underwear which trap sweat. These clothes provide the ideal conditions for the fungus to grow.
Ringworm and jock itch share similar symptoms. Both conditions cause a circular rash with a silvery, scaly centre. They are even caused by the same type of fungus (tinea).
However, the two conditions are distinguished by the place of the body they affect. Ringworm can affect areas of skin such as the shoulders, arms or legs. Jock itch is the name given to when the infection appears around the groin.
Symptoms of ringworm can include:
Severe cases of ringworm can cause multiple ring shaped rashes to appear at once. These may grow or join together over time. The rings may be raised from the surface of the skin or feature blisters around the circumference.
Symptoms of jock itch include:
Diagnosis of a tinea fungal infection is usually based upon the clinical image of the condition, including what it looks like and any other symptoms you may be experiencing.
For more severe cases, a sample of the skin may be taken and tested in a laboratory. This is to determine the type of fungus which is causing the infection. Knowing this, your doctor can issue the most effective treatment for your individual condition.
Fungal infections of the skin, such as jock itch, ringworm and athletes foot, can be prevented by keeping your skin clean and dry.
If someone in your house is infected with a fungal infection, including pets, it's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of an infection. Avoid sharing clothing, bedding and items of clothing with infected individuals. Take extra steps to keep surfaces such as sofas and chairs clean - this will help minimise the spread of the infection.
If your pet is infected with ringworm, get them treated at your vets and always wash your hands after petting or handling them.
Keep cool and dry to prevent the favourable conditions for fungal infections. Regularly wash bedding, towels and clothes.
Following diagnosis, the doctor can prescribe the most suitable antifungal treatment for you.
Antifungal treatments typically work in one of two ways. Some antifungal treatments kill the fungal cells by inhibiting their ability to produce a substance they need to survive. Other treatments prevent the fungus from reproducing.
A course of antifungal medicine usually lasts two weeks. It is recommended to continue taking your antifungal medicine, even if your symptoms disappear or you begin to feel well, to ensure that the infection is cleared from the body.
If your condition does not improve after two weeks of continuous treatment, you should speak to your GP or pharmacist so they can suggest the best course of action for you to take.
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