Also Known As: Tinea Corporus, Ring Worm, Ringworm, Dermatophytosis
Dermatophytosis or ringworm is a clinical condition caused by fungal infection of the skin in humans, pets such as cats, and domesticated animals such as sheep and cattle. The term "ringworm" is a misnomer, since the condition is caused by fungi of several different species and not by parasitic worms. The fungi that cause parasitic infection (dermatophytes) feed on keratin, the material found in the outer layer of skin, hair, and nails. These fungi thrive on skin that is warm and moist, but may also survive directly on the outsides of hair shafts or in their interiors. In pets, the fungus responsible for the disease survives in skin and on the outer surface of hairs.
It has been estimated that currently up to twenty percent of the population may be infected by ringworm or one of the other dermatophytoses. It is especially common among people who play sports, wrestling in particular. Wrestlers with ringworm may be withheld from competition until their skin condition is deemed non-infectious by the proper authorities.
Misdiagnosis and treatment of ringworm with a topical steroid, a standard treatment of the superficially similar pityriasis rosea, can result in tinea incognito, a condition where ringworm fungus will grow without typical features like a distinctive raised border.