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What Microorganism Causes Ringworm?



The microorganisms that cause ringworm are fungus called tinea.

What Causes Ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection caused by tinea. Tinea is a fungus that belongs to the group called “dermatophytes”, which means “skin plants” in Greek. It is a fungus that grows and multiplies on the skin of humans and on pets and it loves a wet, warm environment. Given the proper environment, it can multiply enough to become a problem, such as when it becomes a ringworm infection. Tinea easily spreads from human to human or from pet to human.

Ringworm Described

Ringworm, a common skin condition, usually presents itself as round, red patches on the skin that can be extremely itchy and quite painful, depending on how advanced the condition is. The fungal infection frequently grows on the scalp, fingers, toes, groin, waist, thighs, hands, and feet. The rash can be scaly, can peel, and can even blister. Sweat, heat, and moisture will usually make the condition worse and more uncomfortable. The symptoms can be relieved a bit by over-the-counter or prescription topical anti-fungal creams, and most of the time these creams will work to eliminate the infection altogether.

Types of Tinea

As mentioned, a ringworm infection is caused by tinea growing and multiplying on the skin, causing discomfort in the form of itching and pain. There are different types of tinea that cause certain ringworm infections. For example, Tinea Capitus refers to ringworm on the scalp and can cause hair breakage and loss. Tinea Unguium is ringworm on fingernails or toenails and causes the nails to break easily. Jock itch is the more common term for Tinea Cruris, or ringworm of the groin. Still another very common form of ringworm is Tinea Pedis, or Athlete’s Foot.



“Ringworm – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.

“Ringworm of the body: Causes –” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. <>.


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