Ringworm is a fungal infection that is most frequently seen on the scalp, body, feet and nails. This infection is very contagious and can spread through direct and indirect contact like combs, clothing and pool surfaces. It can be contracted from other people, pets, the soil or prolonged wetness of the skin.
The most visual symptom of ring worm is the red ring that appears on the skin. This may be more difficult to see when it happens on the scalp. Scalp ring worm can also be rather difficult to eradicate. It is recognized by a red, scaly rash on the scalp, itching, hair loss and possibly a rash elsewhere on the body. Nail worm is recognized by thickening of the ends of the nails and a yellowish color on the nails. It most frequently affects the toenails. Body worm has red, circular lesions with raised edges and itching in the affected area. The middle of the lesions may be less red as the lesion gets larger.
Ringworm is caused by several different fungi belonging to the group Dermatophytes. This is the same fungi that causes athlete's foot and jock itch. Scalp worm lasts for 10 to 14 days while skin ringworm lasts 4 to 10 days.
Scalp worm sometimes develops into a kerion, which is a large, tender lesion over the area of the initial infection. This is caused by a hypersensitivity to the ringworm fungus. When this happens, look for tender lymph nodes in the neck and an associated rash elsewhere on the body. When applying remedies, never touch the worm with your bare hands, or if you do, be sure and wash them immediately with hot water and soap. Most remedies can be easily applied with a cotton ball or swab which can be disposed of immediately.