Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 13th, 2018.
What is Tinea Corporis?
Tinea corporis is a fungal infection that develops on the superficial layer of the skin. It can occur in any part of the body but is common in the legs and in the arms particularly in the glabrous skin. Tinea corporis is commonly called Ringworm although this skin condition is not caused by a worm that the term ringworm is a misnomer. It otherwise got the name ringworm due to its appearance similar. Another term for tinea corporis is “tinea glabrosa” and “tinea circinata”.
Tinea corporis is characterized by either an inflammatory or non-inflammatory lesion that develops in the glabrous skin but not on the scalp, palm of the hands and soles of the feet. The disease has a higher prevalence among preadolescent while the incidence is high among children who got the disease from the animals that have tinea corporis as well. Tinea corporis however, can affect people from all age levels in both men and women, although there is a slight prevalence in women of childbearing age. It is also typically found in places with hot and humid climate.
Tinea corporis is not a serious or life-threatening condition and is not associated with mortality or morbidity. However, tinea corporis can affect the quality of life as the ringworm is unappealing and can affect the cosmetic aspect.
Tinea Corporis Symptoms
The onset of tinea corporis may be acute or chronic and it may be inflammatory or non-inflammatory. It is usually asymptomatic and often starts as a flat and scaly patch on the skin. It takes about 4 days to 10 days from exposure to the fungi before the patch begins to develop. The size of the skin patch varies which can be from several millimeters to centimeters in diameter. The appearance of the skin of the affected area may appear scaly and dry and is usually itchy.
The characteristic of the ringworm or of the skin patches in tinea corporis includes the following:
- The ringworm is somewhat oval in shape or resembling a ring
- The borders or edges of the ring are irregular which may have a wavy pattern similar to the scales of a snake or a worm
- The ring has a core that is rather clear and appears healthy
- There are cases where another ring will develop inside the older ring
- The borders of the ring are often elevated
- Multiple rings may sometimes develop at the same time causing the rings to overlap
There are different forms of tinea corporis which have their own characteristics aside from the classical presentation of tinea corporis.
- Tinea imbricata is a form of tinea corporis that is commonly found in the Central and South America, Southeast Asia and in the South Pacific. This form is marked by scaly patches placed in concentric rings.
- Majocchi granuloma is a form of tinea corporis that mainly affects the hair and hair follicles including the surrounding skin and often develops in an unusual area such as in the lower two thirds of the legs. This is particularly common in females who often shave their legs.
- Tinea incognito is a variant of tinea corporis with a modified clinical presentation. The onset is due to treatment or administration of immunosuppressive agent such as a corticosteroid. The area of onset is at the point where the immunosuppressive agent is applied.
- Tinea corporis gladiatorum is a form of tinea corporis present in wrestlers. The incidence is due to a skin-to-skin contact and the ringworm often develops in the area where there is contact such as in the neck, head and arms.
Tinea corporis is commonly known as ringworm although there is no actual involvement of a worm in the disease. It was so called ringworm due to its appearance similar to ringworm and its borders of irregular pattern and scaly texture similar to a snake or worm.
Tinea corporis is generally a mild and non-life threatening skin condition that is caused by an infection from a fungus. Tinea corporis is a dermatophyte infection where a dermatophyte can infect both human and non-human.
The dermatophyte fungi that can cause tinea corporis include the following:
- Trichophyton rubrum is among the most common cause of tinea corporis. It is regarded as one of the most common causes of dermatophytosis globally. T. rubrum mostly infect the areas between the toes and the feet and between the fingernails. It is the causative agent for jock itch, athlete’s foot and ringworm.
- Microsporum canis is a zoophilic dermatophyte that generally inhabits domesticated animals such as dogs and cats. This can cause tinea corporis in human when the causative agent is passed on to human from animals.
- Epidermophyton floccosum is a fungus that prefers a human host. It can be found globally and can cause tinea corporis passed on by host to others through direct contact.
The treatment of tinea corporis is mostly through topical therapy as dermatophyte infection seldom reaches the deeper tissues of the body. It is mostly superficial that topical anti-fungal is enough to treat this skin condition. The anti-fungal cream is usually applied twice a day for a period of two weeks or depending on the agent being used for treatment.
The usual anti-fungal treatment for tinea corporis includes the following:
- Topical azoles
- Imidazole topical cream
- Allylamines including benzylamine butenafine
Oral antifungal medications are given when tinea corporis remains unresponsive to topical therapy. Extensive case of tinea corporis is treated with topical therapy combined with oral antifungal medication usually over the course of one week.
Is Tinea Corporis contagious?
Tinea corporis is a contagious skin condition. The disease can be spread through the following methods:
- Human to human method where the fungi can be passed on through direct contact or skin to skin contact with an infected person
- Animal to human where the fungi can be passed on through direct contact with the host animal mostly domesticated animals such as dogs and cats
- Object to human is the method where a fungus can be passed on to an uninfected person by touching or using the personal belonging of an infected person