What to Look For
What’s most important to remember about ringworm is that it is not associated with any kind of worm growing in or on the skin; instead, it is a fungal infection that is contracted by contact with another infected source. When you’ve got ringworm, you’ve got a simple tinea (from Latin “bookworm”) type fungal infection of the skin.
Your skin is the body’s largest organ comprising up to 20 percent of your weight. It is composed of two layers called the epidermis and the dermis which both sit atop a layer of fat. The uppermost layer of the skin, the epidermis, is your body’s barrier to the world. In this layer, there are a multitude of different cell types: the keratinocytes, the melanocytes, the langerhans cells, and the merkel cells. The most prevalent of the cells are the keratinocytes which form the keratin layer. When ringworm infects your skin, it infects the keratin layers where it feeds off of the keratin cells.
The Presence, Incidence and Occurrences
Ringworm is common among people who play sports where tight clothing is used. Ringworm is a fungus, and fungi do well in moist, dark places such as those found on your skin when you sweat under tight fitting clothes. Another reason that ringworm is common in sports enthusiast is because of the close contact sometimes found in sports. Ringworm is a very contagious infection, and as such, it doesn’t take much for it to spread.
The fungi that cause ringworm are commonly found on wet towels, tanning beds, swimming pools, and community shower facilities. It is not uncommon for a ringworm infection to take root on your skin from any of these sources.
Ringworm, Humans and Hygiene
At any given time, about 20 percent of the populace has ringworm, and in most instances, people who have the infection rarely know of where they came in contact with it. The tell tale rash and itch associated with ringworm appear on the skin 10 to 14 days after contact.
Many articles stress the utmost importance of body hygiene. This may be true to some extent, however as a matter of fact ringworm has little to do with hygiene or lack of hygiene. It is contracted when your skin comes in contact with living fungi, allowing it to establish a colony on the outer layers of your skin. Ringworm is highly contagious, and in part, its high level of transmissibility is the reason the infection is so common.
Ringworm in humans has been a very common thing for generations. And while the sound of it is terrible, it is highly treatable and not life threatening. It is uncomfortable, a bit unsightly, and perhaps somewhat embarrassing, but it is something that many people deal with each and every day.
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