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MEDICAL

Ring Worm

Every day, people around the world, from every walk of life, experience visitations by alien life forms. These silent invaders use our skin as a landing sites, burrowing and spreading, as if they were exploring some strange new world. The only evidence of their arrival: a red, scaly, O- shaped lesion, like the rings of Saturn.

Those lesions are the telltale signs of ringworm which is not a worm but a group of fungi identical to the kinds that cause athlete’s foot and jock itch. Invading the arm , moist areas of the groin, trunk, extremities and scalp. The fungi multiply to form a pronounced red ring or an itchy, eczema – like patch.

Ringworms are highly contagious. If your skin comes in contact with the fungi anywhere, parts of your hide may begin to display the telltale circular design. Bathrooms, gym lockers, theater seats, combs, pets and unwashed clothing have served as launching pads for a nasty bout with ringworm.

Severe case, specifically those of the scalp can be treated only with prescribed oral antibiotics. But with milder cases, you have more down to earth weapons at your disposal to fight off this invasion of the body splotches.

Cream it with an antifungal. You can stop most ringworm infections of the trunk, groin or extremities with an over the counter antifungal cream . Go with a cream that contains an –azole product as its active ingredient. Clotrimazoles and miconazoles do a great job of controlling ringworm quickly. You may also see good results with a product containing a tolnaftate such as Tinactin or Aftate. These will cool down a ringworm infection, reduce the itching and limit the spread., They are more effective on smaller patches than on large ones. For directions for application check the package. You will need to apply any medication twice a day for about two weeks after the ring disappears to take care of any stubborn fungi that may be hiding.

Establish a safety zone. With antifungal creams, it is important to treat both the area affected and the area immediately around it. Spread cream
on the area outside the ring and work your way in toward the center. On a nickel size patch, try to cover a half dollar size area.

Bathe daily. You can’t wash away ringworm, but a daily bath or shower may hinder its spread and provide some itch relief. No astringent, gritty or germ fighting soaps are needed. Just use a plain gentle soap to keep the area clean. Avoid harsh scrubbing , it will only aggravate the lesion.

Use a medicated shampoo. Medicated shampoos such as Selsun blue, Denorex or Head and Shoulders for ringworm of the scalp. It won’t cure ringworm but it will limit its spread, prevent it from looking too scaly and provide itch relief. Don’t scrub: let the shampoo lather well and sit on the scalp for four to five minutes then rinse.

Blow dry the cozy crevices. Ringworm fungi thrive in moisture. They love to make themselves cozy in the warm , moist areas on the body , especially between toes, and in the groin area. After bathing, thoroughly pat the affected area dry. Then sprinkle on some absorbent powder ( don’t use cornstarch: fungi will use it as food) You’ll also see improvement if you air out problem areas with an electric hair dryer set on cool.

Rotate your shoes. Since shoe often harbor fungi, you need to be careful how you handle them. In fact your medication may not do any good if you step into that same fungus-infested shoes each day. You should never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Give them a chance to air out.

Put on socks before undress. This will prevent your underwear from coming in contact with fungus-infected feet. When you pull up your underwear, you won’t spread the fungi to your leg, groin and belly.

Wear loose fitting clothing. A good way to keep the ringworm area dry is to wear shorts or loose clothing . Tight clothing generates far too much heat. Cotton fibers are good choice because they breathe to keep the area exposed to air and free from perspiration . Change your clothing and bedding daily so fungi don’t have a place to breed.

Machine wash clothes and linens. Regular washing in hot water with chlorine bleach as well as detergent is the best way to kill fungi on the underwear and linen. Washing with detergent alone isn’t usually enough. Combs and hats should also be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Go light on the hydrocortisones. You don’t want to scratch an itchy ringworm infection. On the other hand, anti-itch hydrocortisone creams alone will only encourage the fungi to grow. However a little hydrocortisone applied simultaneously with an antifungal for the first one to two days will diminish severe itching. On the third day continue antifungal only.

Take your pet to the vet. Kids love to cuddle dogs and cat. Unfortunately pets make great homes for ringworm fungi. If you suspect your child’s ringworm is coming from a pet, take the animal to the veterinarian for a thorough examination and professional treatment.

Disinfect the trouble spots. Ringworm fungi love to collect in tubs, on bathroom floors, in hampers and dresser drawer. You should destroy these breeding grounds by regularly cleaning them with chlorine bleach.

When to see your doctor. There are times when over the counter antifungal aren’t appropriate or strong enough to stop a bad case of ringworm. That’s when you need to see a dermatologist who is armed with arsenal of high strength topical and oral medications. You should seek medical treatment if any of the following occurs:

  1. The ringworm persists or grows even after you have treated your condition for two full weeks with an over the counter antifungal medication.
  2. If it is on your scalp, face or beard.
  3. You see signs of infection on a baby.
  4. There are several lesion scattered across the body.
  5. The ringworm invades the toenails.