If you've noticed a small red 'ring' on your skin, perhaps with a raised itchy area, then it's possible that you may be suffering from a condition known as ringworm.
Don't worry though, while ringworm may sound like a parasitic infection, it actually has nothing to do with 'worms' and has nothing in common with tapeworm. The name ringworm merely refers to the condition's appearance and fortunately it's easy enough to treat.
What Is Ringworm?
Rather than being caused by actual worms, ringworm is a fungal infection along the same lines as Athlete's Foot or fungal nail infections. It can also be known as 'jock itch' when it affects the groin and is more common in men than in women.
How it Spreads
Ringworm is caused by fungi that lives on the skin and hair and that thrives in warm moist areas such as locker rooms, swimming pools and folds of the skin. It is highly contagious and can be easily spread through physical contact with other people or even animals.
Note that ringworm will usually take the form of a ring, but this is not always the case. It is commonly found in the folds of the groin and can also appear on the palm of the hand where it looks similar to athlete's foot. It also appears on the face.
If you have a red rash in a ring shape then ringworm is likely, but a doctor will be able to tell you for sure. You should visit a doctor soon when you suspect you may have a case of ringworm, as otherwise it can cause your skin to crack which may lead to infections.
If it is discovered that you do have ringworm, then it is relatively simple to treat ringworm with creams designed for that purpose. The ringworm may clear up quickly once you begin treatment, but it's important that you continue to use the treatment as directed by your doctor or the label, or it can otherwise come back. If the cream is ineffective then your doctor may prescribe oral medication.