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Tinea corporis
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 B35.4
ICD-9 110.5
DiseasesDB 29138
eMedicine derm/421

Tinea corporis (also known as Ringworm,[1] tinea circinata,[2]:302, and Tinea glabrosa[1]) is a superficial fungal infection (dermatophytosis) of the arms and legs, especially on glabrous skin, however it may occur on any part of the body.



It may have a variety of appearances; most easily identifiable are the enlarging raised red rings with a central area of healing (ringworm). The same appearances of ringworm may also occur on the scalp (tinea capitis), beard area (tinea barbae) or the groin (tinea cruris, known as jock itch or dhobi itch).

Other classic features of tinea corporis include:

  • The edge of the rash appears elevated and is scaly to touch.
  • Sometimes the skin surrounding the rash may be dry and flaky.
  • Almost invariable, there will be hair loss in areas of the infection.


Tinea corporis is caused by a tiny fungus known as dermatophyte. These tiny organisms normally live on the superficial skin surface, and when the opportunity is right, they can induce a rash or infection. [3]

The disease can also be acquired by: Person-to-person transfer usually via direct skin contact with an infected individual. Animal-to-human transmission is also common. Ringworms commonly occur on pets (dogs, cats) and a fungus can be acquired while petting or grooming the animal. Ringworms can also be acquired from other animals like horses, pigs, ferrets and cows. Ring worms can also be acquired by touching inanimate objects like personal care products, bed linen, combs or hair brushes. [4]

Individuals at at high risk of acquiring ringworms include those who:

  • Live in crowded humid conditions.
  • Sweat excessively, as sweat can produce a humid wet environment where the pathogenic fungi can thrive. This is most common in the armpits, groin creases and skin folds of the abdomen. [5]
  • Participate in close contact sports like soccer, rugby, or wrestling.
  • Wear tight constrictive clothing with poor aeration
  • Have a weak immune system (e.g. HIV)

Diagnosis and testing

Once a fungus is suspected, your physician will examine the skin and take scrapings. These superficial scarps of skin are examined underneath the microscope which quickly reveal the presence of a fungus. If the skin scrapings are negative and a fungus is still suspected, the scrapings are sent for culture. Because the fungus grow slowly, the culture results do take several days to become positive. [6]


Because fungi prefer warm, moist environments, preventing ringworm involves keeping skin dry and avoiding contact with infectious material. Basic prevention measures include:

  • Wash hands after handling animals, soil, and plants.
  • Avoid touching characteristic lesions on other people.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Practice good hygiene when participation in sports involves physical contact with other people.


Most cases are treated by application of topical antifungal creams to the skin, but in extensive or difficult to treat cases systemic treatment with oral medication may be required.


Topical treatment

In general ringworm responds well to topical treatment. Topical antifungals are applied to the lesion twice a day for at least 3 weeks. The lesion usually resolves within 2 weeks, but therapy should be continued for another week to ensure the fungus is completely eradicated. The most commonly used antifungal creams are Clotrimazole, Ketoconazole, Miconazole, Terbinafine and Tolnaftate.

Systemic oral treatment

If there are several ringworm lesions or if the lesions are extensive, oral antifungal medications can be used. Oral medications are taken once a day for 7 days and result in higher clinical cure rates. The antifungal medications most commonly used are Itraconazole and Terbinafine.


Tinea corporis is very contagious and can infect everyone in the household. So if you have acquired it, take the proper measures in order to prevent its spreading. If you have young children, educate them about the infection and how to avoid it. If measures are not taken, is likely that tinea corporis will keep on recurring. [7]

Avoid wearing tight thick restrictive clothing; fungus thrive in warm humid conditions. If you keep pets, get them checked regularly. If you notice hair loss in patches or your pet is scratching excessively, it is recommendable to get the animal checked for tinea.

The majority of people who have acquired tinea, do know how uncomfortable the infection can be. However, the fungus can easily be treated and prevented in individuals with a healthy immune system. [8]

See also


  1. ^ a b Rapini, Ronald P.; Bolognia, Jean L.; Jorizzo, Joseph L. (2007). Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. St. Louis: Mosby. pp. 1135. ISBN 1-4160-2999-0. 
  2. ^ James, William D.; Berger, Timothy G.; et al. (2006). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: clinical Dermatology. Saunders Elsevier. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0. 
  3. ^ Ringworm - Tinea Corporis About Dermathology online portal. Retrieved on 2010-02-08
  4. ^ Tinea corporis, Tinea cruris, and Tinea pedis FungusDoctor web portal. 2010-02-16
  5. ^ Tinea Corporis ringworm treatment information 2010-02-16
  6. ^ Fungus Infections: Tinea American Osteophatic College of Dermatology. Retrieved on 2010-02-16
  7. ^ U.S. National Library of Medicine. "Tinea corporis, tinea cruris, tinea nigra, and piedra" 2010-02-08.
  8. ^ University of Maryland Medical Center. "Tinea corporis - Overview" 2010-02-16.


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