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High humidity and high heat along with perpetual damp weather prevalent during the monsoon season are the prime factors for all kinds of fungal skin infections. Amongst the various types seen occurring during this time, ringworm infection can be difficult to prevent since it can happen to anyone and is very contagious.
About Ringworm Infection
Although the skin condition prevalent during monsoon is referred to as a ringworm infection in common parlance, in reality, the infection is caused by a fungus and not a worm. Ringworm infection is also known as tinea, dermatophyte infection or dermatophytosis. The lesions that appear on the skin look similar to ring-like worms, hence the name. Once the fungal infection has taken its root, the patches will appear red on someone who is light-complexioned or brown-grey on those who are dusky or have a darker complexion. The infection can spread to body parts such as feet, scalp, hands, nails, beard and groin.
1. Human to human: This transmission can take place when personal items such as clothes, towels, combs or grooming products are shared between two individuals.
2. Object to humans: The fungus thrives in damp environments. From the public shower to the public phone booth or public transport, the infection can be caught anywhere.
3. Soil to humans: Humans, as well as animals, can come in contact with the infection from the soil carrying the fungi. That is why it is recommended to not walk barefoot during the monsoon season.
4. Animal to human: The transmission can take place from both domesticated animals as well as farm animals
How to Recognise a Ringworm Infection
· Itchy, scaly patches-brown, red, or grey in colour
· Raised skin patches are known as plaque
· Flat patch of round itchy skin
· Blisters or pustules
· Hair loss
· Overlapping rings
· Ring-like patches with deep colour on the outside
· Patches with defined and raised edges
Risk factors for Ringworm Infection
· Thrive in humid and warm environments
· Public showers or locker rooms
· Contact sports like football or wrestling
· Coming into contact with infected animals- domesticated and farm
· Having diabetes or obesity
· Tendency to sweat profusely
· Wearing tight clothes or shoes that can chafe or graze the skin
· Wearing clothes made from allergenic fibres such as polyesters or synthetics
· Suffering from a compromised immunity
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, please consult with a dermatologist. They will examine the affected region and ask you to undergo a few tests such as:
- A fungal culture or skin biopsy wherein the doctor will collect a sample from the skin and send it to the laboratory for examination
- A KOH exam wherein the doctor scrapes a part of the affected region, places the sample on a slide and pours a liquid called potassium hydroxide. The inorganic compound breaks down the skin cells revealing the presence of the fungus under a microscope.
Once the diagnosis is complete and your condition is confirmed to be a case of ringworm infection, you will be advised on the following treatment path:
- Topicals: An antifungal medication will be advised to you in the form of gels, ointments, sprays, and creams.
- Oral medication: In severe cases, oral medication can also be prescribed.
- For scalp or nail infections, you may be asked to take prescription-strength medications
- You may also be advised over-the-counter medications
Monsoon is a prime season for developing a skin fungal condition like a ringworm infection which loves to breed in damp and humid weather. Safeguard yourself from such a highly contagious skin infection by wearing loose-fitting clothes made from hypoallergenic materials such as cotton. Keep your skin dry after getting drenched or after washing up. Clean your clothes and towels with disinfectants and lukewarm water regularly. In case you develop a persisting symptom, visit Medibuddy and set up an online doctor consultation with a dermatologist.