Despite its name, ringworm is a contagious fungal skin infection, not a parasite. Also called tinea, ringworm affects the skin, including the groin, feet, and scalp. Ringworm goes by different names depending on where on the body it is located (such as athlete's foot or jock itch) but the culprit is the same. The infection gets its common name from the ring-shaped rash it causes. Ringworm can be the result of three types of fungus found in soil. Humans and animals can contract the condition directly from the soil, but it is more common to get ringworm from a person or pet that already has it. Children often pass the infection to one another by sharing objects that aren't clean. Athlete's foot is spread in places like gyms and jails, where shared areas are not cleaned properly.
Symptoms of ringworm include the ring-shaped rash mentioned above. This rash can vary in size, but most have a noticeable ring around the affected area, as well as a red center. Other symptoms of the condition include dry, scaly patched of skin (that will eventually become rashes), and oozing blisters that may leak fluid. Often, people with ringworm will become itchy due to the dryness of their skin. Scratching can be problematic because it can enable the infection to spread. If the fungal infection is allowed to progress, people with ringworm can begin to experience brittle nails and hair loss if the rash spreads to these areas.
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