Tinea is a common fungal infection of the skin. It is also known as ringworm when it affects the scalp, beard, or nails. Tinea can affect any part of the body but is most commonly found on the trunk, face, groin, and feet. The fungus that causes tinea thrives in warm, moist environments. This includes sweaty or occluded areas of the body, such as the armpits or groin. The fungus can also be spread by sharing contaminated clothing, towels, or bedding. Tinea is most commonly seen in children and young adults. It is more common in summer and in warmer climates. Treatment for tinea usually involves antifungal creams or oral medications.
Types of Tinea
- Tinea capitis
This form of tinea affects the scalp and is also known as scalp ringworm. It most commonly affects children but can occur in adults as well. Symptoms include itchy, scaly patches on the scalp, and sometimes hair loss.
- Tinea corporis
Tinea corporis is a fungal infection that affects the skin on the body (corpora means “body” in Latin). It is also known as ringworm of the body and can cause a red, itchy, scaly rash anywhere on the body. The rash may be circular and is often mistaken for a spider bite.
- Tinea cruris
Tinea cruris, also known as jock itch, is a fungal infection that affects the skin in the groin area. It can cause an itchy, red, scaly rash in the folds of the skin in the groin. Jock itch is more common in men than women and is often spread through contact with contaminated clothing or towels.
- Tinea pedis
Tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot, is a fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. It can cause an itchy, red, scaly rash between the toes, on the soles of the feet, or both. Athlete’s foot is often spread through contact with contaminated floors or shoes. It is more common in men than women and is more common in people who sweat heavily. People with diabetes or a weakened immune system are also at increased risk for developing an athlete’s foot.
- Tinea unguium
This form of tinea affects the nails and is also known as nail fungus or onychomycosis. It can cause the nails to become thick, yellow, or brittle and can make them difficult to trim. Nail fungus is more common in toenails than fingernails and is more common in people over the age of 60.
What are the symptoms of tinea?
The symptoms of tinea usually depend on the type of infection. The most common symptom is a rash, which can appear as a patch of scaly skin, blisters, or pus-filled bumps. The rash may be itchy, and it may spread to other parts of the body.
Other symptoms can include:
- Cracking or peeling skin
- Burning or stinging sensation
- Redness or inflammation
The infection spreads to the nails, it can cause them to become discolored, thickened, and deformed. In severe cases, tinea can lead to secondary bacterial infections. If left untreated, tinea can recur or become chronic.
What causes tinea?
Tinea is caused by a fungus, which is a type of microorganism that lives on the dead tissues of the skin, hair, and nails. The fungus that causes tinea can be passed from person to person through direct contact or indirect contact with contaminated objects. Tinea can also be contracted by walking barefoot in public places, such as locker rooms or swimming pools. People who have a weakened immune system or who take certain medications, such as steroids, are at increased risk for developing tinea.
How is tinea treated?
The treatment for tinea depends on the type of infection. Tinea can usually be treated with antifungal creams or ointments, which are applied to the affected area. For more severe infections, oral antifungal medications may be necessary. In some cases, a combination of topical and oral medications is used.
What are the complications of tinea?
If the tinea infection is not treated properly, it can lead to complications such as:
- Bacterial skin infections
- Hair loss
- Nail changes or loss
Can tinea be prevented?
Tinea can be difficult to prevent because it is a fungus that lives on the skin. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing tinea:
- Keep your skin clean and dry.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Avoid sharing towels, clothing, or other personal items with someone who has tinea.
- Wear sandals or other shoes that allow your feet to breathe.
- Change your socks and underwear daily.
- Avoid walking barefoot in public places.
- Shower after you swim.
- Keep your nails clean and trimmed.
Tinea is a fungal infection that can affect the skin, hair, or nails. It is often spread through contact with contaminated objects or by walking barefoot in public places. The symptoms of tinea depend on the type of infection. Tinea can usually be treated with antifungal creams or ointments, but more severe infections may require oral antifungal medications. Complications of tinea can include bacterial skin infections, cellulitis, scarring, hair loss, and nail changes or loss. Tinea can be difficult to prevent, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing it.