Aug 282023

Tinea is the Latin word for worm so it is understandable that tinea and ringworm are the same condition. They are a fungal infection that affects skin on different parts of the body.

Dermatophytes cause Tinea

Dermatophytes are fungi that invade the dead cell component of the skin, nails and hair. They do not live on living cells so tinea will only affect the upper dead layers of the skin known as keratin. The presence of the fungi on the skin may lead to an inflammatory or allergic reaction.

Under normal circumstances people are quite resistant to fungal infection. However when the body becomes weakened due to chronic illness, long term antibiotic use, genetic factors or damaged skin their resistance is reduced and they become more vulnerable to developing a fungal infection.

Fungi thrive in warm, moist places

Tinea is more likely to develop if the conditions are right. Fungi thrive in warm, moist places so the presence of fungi is common in areas of the body that become hot and sweaty – between the toes, under the breasts, in the groin.

There are various types of fungi that can cause tinea however it is not the fungi that tinea is defined by but rather its location on the body.

Tinea pedis a common form of tinea

One of the most common forms of tinea is Tinea Pedis, also known as athletes foot. Tinea pedis is a common condition that presents as softening and whitening of the skin in the webbing between the toes.

If untreated tinea pedis may spread to the nails creating a condition known as Tinea unguium (simply meaning tinea of the nails). Tinea of the nails typically starts at the tip of one or more nails and if left untreated will cause the nail to become soft and soggy. The free edges of the nail will thicken and become yellow tinged.

Jock itch most common in males

Tinea may also form in the groin area where it is called tinea cruris or more commonly jock itch. This form of tinea is most common in males and presents as raised, sharply defined lesions that may expend to the buttocks, inner thighs and external genitalia. The condition is usually very itchy.

The beard area on males is also vulnerable to the development of tinea (tinea barbae) as is the scalp of both men and women (tinea capitas). In both, small lesions will appear that may become inflamed. Patchy loss of hair is also possible.

Children more prone to develop tinea on flat body parts

Any tinea developing on other parts of the body is known as tinea corporis and is more common in children. It presents as a flat skin lesion that is either dry and scaly or moist and crusty. As the lesion grows its center will heal leaving the characteristic ring shaped lesion common to ringworm.

Treat tinea with anti-fungal cream

Most tinea can be treated with over the counter anti-fungal creams that are rubbed onto the affected areas. In some instances oral anti-fungal medications will also be required.
Ensuring the skin is kept clean and dry is also important. Avoid allowing skin layers to lie together when they are wet or sweaty.

Tinea is a very contagious condition

Tinea is a very contagious condition and can be easily passed from person to person. Contaminated articles like shoes, towels and brushes should not be shared and when showering in communal showers waterproof footwear should always be worn.

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