Dermatophytosis, commonly known as “ringworm”, is an infectious skin disease caused by dermatophytes (a group of fungi that infect and thrive within dead keratin. The name ringworm is a misnomer because this skin problem is caused by fungi and not worms. Fungi like Microsporum, Epidermophyton and/or Trichophyton generally infect the human keratin and leads to this disease. The infection tends to form on the outerside of the skin in a ring like pattern. Dermatophytosis can occur anywhere on the skin and it can be treated successfully. However, the effectiveness of the treatment depends upon the site where the infection occurs and on compliance with treatment.
Dermatophytosis, being a contagious disease can easily spread from an infected person to a normal person, either by direct contact or by sharing of personal items that may not be clean. The common symptoms of dermatophytosis include red, scaly, itchy, blister like patches which forms a raised ring like pattern. These patches may even ooze at times. Hair loss usually occurs in the affected area. When dermatophytosis occurs within the nails, they tend to thicken, discolour or may even crack. These symptoms usually show up between four to fourteen days after exposure. Dermatophytosis can occur in more than one place at a time.
However, dermatophytosis can be prevented by maintaining personal hygiene such as keeping the skin and nails clean, avoiding dampness of the skin and feet for a long time, wearing clean and loose fitting underwear, avoiding the use of personal items of other people and others. Diagnosis of dermatophytosis involve observing specimens of skin and nails under the microscope for hyphae and spores, fungal culture to identify the species of fungi that has caused the infection and ultraviolet light examination since the fungi exhibit fluorescence under ultraviolet light. In rare cases biopsy may be necessary if there is no response to the treatment.
Once a patient is diagnosed as having dermatophytosis he/she is subjected to medical treatment. The doctor usually prescribes a series of topical or oral antifungal medications depending upon the severity of the infection. Some of the common anti-fungal medications involve imidazole, econazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine and others which are available in the form of ointments, gels, powders and sprays. Applying these anti-fungal medications (on the affected area) regularly twice a day can effectively treat the infection. Agents such as corticosteroid, though not always necessary, may be used in case a lot of inflammation is seen to occur. However, the use of topical steroids alone should be avoided.
Ringworm (or dermatophytosis) of nails or scalp can be treated using oral medications such as terbinafine, griseofulvin or ketoconazole. Such medications should be used regularly for a period of at least two weeks as directed by the concerned medical personnel.
In addition to such medical treatment, care should be taken by the patient in the question of maintaining personal hygiene. One should keep their skin and nails clean, wear clean loose fitting cotton underwear and avoid sweat and dampness of the skin and feet for a long time. Moreover, use of personal items of other persons should be avoided since dermatophytosis being a contagious infection spreads easily through contact.
Any person, who is having fungal infection on their skin and shows symptoms such as red, scaly, itchy, blister like patches which forms a raised ring like pattern is said to have dermatophytosis and is eligible for this treatment.
People, who have healthy skin and without any symptoms of dermatophytosis, are considered as ineligible for this treatment.
The treatment of dermatophytosis using anti-fungal medications is considered to be more or less safe and free from major side effects. However, mild side effects have been reported among some patients, though very rare. These side effects include allergic reactions, intensive facial pruritus, nausea and vomiting. Such side effects can be easily managed. In case the side effects become serious enough, then the patient must immediately consult with the concerned doctor.
Dermatophytosis can be successfully treated by topical and oral anti-fungal medications. The post treatment guidelines include taking the medicines and applying the prescribed ointments, sprays or gels regularly on time as directed by the physician, maintaining personal hygiene, avoiding the usage of other’s personal items, wearing clean and loose fitting cotton underwear, avoiding sweat and dampness of skin and feet for a long time. Such measures help in curing the infection within a short span of time.
A patient who has dermatophytosis can be cured within a short span time if he/she uses the prescribed medications regularly on time along with maintaining proper personal hygiene. On an average, it takes approximately two weeks’ time for a patient to completely recover from this skin infection. However, severe cases of dermatophytosis may take about 4 weeks for complete recovery.
The price of the treatment for dermatophytosis varies in different parts of India. However, on an average the price of complete treatment usually ranges between Rs 725 to Rs. 10,175 per patient. This treatment is easily available in almost all towns and cities in India.
Dermatophytosis is a contagious skin infection and is generally spread through contact and use of personal items of the infected person. Hence, recovery from this infection does not guarantee further occurrence of this skin disease in future. Even if a patient has recovered from this infection, he/she can get this disease in future if they do not follow the basics of personal hygiene.
Topical and oral anti-fungal medications are considered as the best ways to treat dermatophytosis. However, the alternative treatments for this infection include using tea tree oil, apple cidar vinegar, garlic extract, jojoba oil, lavender oil, salt and vinegar mixture, turmeric, mustard seeds, colloidal silver, aloe vera, olive leaf, myrrh, lemongrass tea and others. These home remedies can also be used to treat the problem of dermatophytosis.