Alternative Names

Dermatophytid; Tinea

Definition of Ringworm

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus. Ringworm can affect skin on your body (tinea corporis), scalp (tinea capitis), groin area (, also called jock itch), or feet (, also called athlete’s foot).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Ringworm is a common skin disorder, especially among children, but it may affect people of all ages. Although its name suggests otherwise, it is caused by a fungus, not a worm.


The symptoms of ringworm include:

Signs and tests

Your doctor will diagnose ringworm primarily based on the appearance of the skin. If tests are needed, the fungus may appear florescent when your skin is examined with a blue light (called a Wood’s lamp) in a dark room. A more definitive diagnosis can be made by scraping the affected area of skin and examining the cells under a microscope.


Ringworm usually responds well to self-care within 4 weeks without having to see a doctor.

Expectations (prognosis)

Skin medication is usually successful at treating Ringworm within 4 weeks. If your ringworm infection is severe or resistant (meaning that it does not respond well to self-care), it will usually respond quickly to antifungal pills.


Rachel A. Lewis, MD, FAAP, Columbia University Pediatric Faculty Practice, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. – 5/1/2007

Dermatitis, reaction to tinea
Ringworm, tinea corporis on an infant
Ringworm, tinea capitis - close-up
Ringworm, tinea on the hand and leg
Ringworm, tinea manuum on the finger
Ringworm, tinea corporis on the leg
Tinea (ringworm)

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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