9 complications of ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal disease we’re all at risk of contracting. Here are important factors you need to know about.

10 March 2015
by Ruth Rehbock

It’s a common skin condition that tends to occur when your immune system is compromised, but many of us are at a higher risk of contracting the fungal disease known as ringworm than we might realise. 

“This fungus can affect the skin, hair and nails. As ringworm is a fungal skin or scalp infection, secondary bacterial infections are common if there is broken skin where the ringworm occurs,” says pharmacist Cephas Mhlanga, Clicks Eastern Cape Division.

If you leave it untreated, you could risk other complications including hair loss, slight scarring, pain and, if you’ve suffered ringworm on your feet, difficulty with wearing shoes. Ringworm can also be very difficult to cure if you have a heavily compromised immune system, for instance, if you have HIV/Aids.

Here are 9 of the more important risk factors you might not know about:

1. Your age

Young and old people are more susceptible, most likely due to weaker immune systems.

2. Diabetes

It’s common to see those who suffer from recurrent fungal infections such as ringworm also suffering from diabetes. In fact, it can often be the first sign of diabetes. If you have recurrent fungal infection, speak to your Clicks Clinic Sister about getting tested.

3. Obesity

Being overweight and/or prediabetic can raise your risk contracting ringworm, especially if you are constantly sweating (known as hyperhidrosis) and/or wear tight clothing that restricts ventilation, providing a warm, damp environment in which the fungus will thrive.

4. Compromised or weakened immune system

This is because your body’s ability to fight off any infection is lower than usual. In these cases, prolonged or higher doses of treatment will be needed.

5. Medical therapy

Again, this is because some medications can weaken the immune system. For example, long-term steroid treatment, chemotherapy for cancer, and medications that suppress the immune system, such as those taken by transplant patients.

6. Previous infections:

Some of us are predisposed to fungal infection. Being previously infected may make you more susceptible.

7. Vascular problems

Disease affecting the blood vessels of the body may result in your extremeties being susceptible to fungal infection simply because your body cannot get enough blood flow to those areas in order to fight off infection.

8. Your environment

Make sure to avoid damp, humid and crowded conditions as ringworm and other fungal infections thrive in these conditions.

9. Contact with infected people or animals

Ringworm is also considered to be highly infectious, so it’s important to avoid contact with infected people where possible. This includes not using their towels, hairbrushes, hats or clothing.

Prevention is always better than cure, so be sure to avoid a lifestyle that might encourage fungal infections.

Here are a few extra tips:

  • After you have showered or taken a bath, make sure that you dry yourself properly between the toes, in the groin and under the arms.
  • Avoid scratching those areas that are affected as this will aid the spread of the infection.
  • Keep an eye on your pets as they can also carry ringworm. If you suspect your pet is ill take it to the vet immediately. 
  • Lastly, ensure you take good care to keep your immune system strong by eating well and exercising regularly.

For more info, speak to your nearest Clicks Pharmacist.