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Types of Ringworm


Ringworm, otherwise known as tinea infections, is a type of dermatophytic fungus that grows and multiplies on the body’s surface cells and sustains itself on keratin-rich tissues in the skin, hair, nails and scalp. The fungus can be spread in numerous ways like coming into contact with infected animals, contaminated household objects, soil or even other human beings. Tinea infections are classified by the area of the body that they infect.

Foot Ringworm (tinea pedis)

More commonly known as athlete’s foot, it most often affects post-pubescent males due to the excess production from the sweat glands near the feet and the habit of not drying the feet sufficiently after showering or swimming. Symptoms might include scaling of the skin on the feet, itchy rashes or blisters on the feet, and a distinct whitening of the skin between the toes.

Most Commonly Affects: Males between 20-40. [1]

Caused by: T. rubrum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, var interdigitale, E. floccosum [2]

Image: Ringworm tinea pedis (

Hand Ringworm (tinea manuum)

Ringworm present on the hands often begins as athlete’s foot that infects the hands and fingers. [3] This infection is characterized by the common red, scaly rings but may also present with a fine, white, scale that outlines the hand.

Most Commonly Affects: Adults

Caused by: T. rubrum[4]

Image: Ringworm tinea manuum (US National Library of Medicine)

Groin Ringworm (tinea cruris)

Also called jock itch, this is again more commonly found in males and quite rare among females.  This type of ringworm commonly begins as athlete’s foot that is spread to the groin area. [5] Symptoms might include itching, pain or ring-like red patches on the groin area.

Most Commonly Affects: Men [6]

Caused by: T. rubrum, E. floccosum [7]

Image: Ringworm tinea cruris (WebMD)

Scalp Ringworm (tinea capitis)

Prevalent among young children and rarely found in adults, this type is highly contagious. Symptoms might include itching or a red, scaly rash as well as rashes elsewhere on the body and possible hair loss.

Most Commonly Affects: School-aged children [8]

Caused by: Trichophyton tonsurans, Microsporum andouinii, Microsporum canis [9]

Image: Ringworm tinea capitis (US National Library of Medicine)

Nail Ringworm (tinea unguium)

Affecting both sets of nails but more prevalent in the toenails, this type is more commonly found in adults rather than young children. Risk factors for this type of tinea include advancing age, diabetes, sports participation, and ill-fitting shoes.  Symptoms might include yellow discoloration or thickening of the ends of nails.

Most Commonly Affects: Adults

Caused by: T. rubrum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, var mentagrophytes [10]

Image: Ringworm tinea unguium (

Body Ringworm (tinea corporis)

This is characterized by ring-like rashes found anywhere on the body other than the hands, feet, scalp, groin, nails, and bearded areas. It can occur at any age but it more prevalent in children and in hotter climates. Symptoms might include itchy rashes and red, circular lesions that have raised edges.

Most Commonly Affects: Children and adults more common in hot climates [11]

Caused by: Trichophyton rubrum, M. Canis, T. tonsurans, T. verrucosum [12]

Image: Ringworm tinea corporis (US National Library of Medicine)

Beard Ringworm (tinea barbae)

This type of ringworm is rare, affecting men who work with animals. Symptoms may include circular red patches. If an inflammatory kerion occurs, it can result in permanent scarring and hair loss. [13]

Most Commonly Affects: Men working with animals.

Caused by: Trichophyton verrucosum [14]




[1][2][4][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][14]American Family Physician, SARA L. NOBLE, PHARM.D
Diagnosis and Management of Common Tinea Infections


[13]Merck Manual Home Health Care Book
Ringworm (Tinea)

The Journal of Family Practice
Clear Choices in Managing Epidermal Tinea Infections-Tinea Manuum

Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Tinea Infections (Ringworm)


Glossary of Terms

Dermatophyte:  are fungi that cause skin, hair, and nail infections. Infections caused by these fungi are also sometimes known as “ringworm” or “tinea.”

Keratin:  fibrous structural protein of hair, nails, horn, hoofs, wool, feathers, and of the epithelial cells in the outermost layers of the skin.

Tinea kerion: An inflammatory pustular fungus infection of the scalp and beard with infiltration of the surrounding parts, commonly caused byMicrosporum audouinii.
The American Heritage Medical Dictionary


Expert Opinion

“The estimated lifetime risk of acquiring a dermatophyte infection is between 10 and 20 percent. Recognition and appropriate treatment of these infections reduces both morbidity and discomfort and lessens the possibility of transmission. ”

Diagnosis and Management of Common Tinea Infections  American Family Physician, SARA L. NOBLE, PHARM.D

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