Ring worm or tinea is caused by resilient skin fungi or dermatophytes that grow and multiply and cause a skin infection. The fungi live on the dead layer of the tough protein called keratin that rests on the top surface of the skin. Keratin is also found in your nails and hair. Therefore, fungus problems are quite common on the nails and scalp as well as the skin. The fungi do not venture deeper into the skin matrix, because they cannot live there.
Where does the ringworm causing fungi come from? The fungi can come from direct skin to skin contact with individuals already infected, from infected animals especially cats but also dogs, rabbits, ferrets, cattle, horses, goats, pigs, and even chickens, from prolonged contact with soil containing the fungi, or due to contact with non living objects that have the fungi on them. Sharing clothes or towels with a person that has ringworm or is carrying the fungi is one way of contracting ringworm via contact with a non-living object. It is often difficult to zero in on the actual source that caused the problem, unless it is known that direct contact with an infected individual has occurred. Often, an adult can be a carrier of the fungi, but not actually be infected or have ringworm. Children often suffer from tinea because of their weaker immune systems and because of the modes of infection described above.
For more information on ringworm visit the pictures of ringworm page.
Obviously, this skin problem is contagious. However, vulnerability of an individual depends on various factors. Not everyone exposed to the skin fungi will develop tinea. Some individuals, due to various health conditions or health problems are more likely to develop tinea on exposure. This is especially true for people with weakened immune systems.
The fungi thrive under certain conditions. Warm and moist conditions are ideal places for the fungi to stay active and create the ring worm problem. Therefore, sweaty areas of the body are typical target sites. The absence of light also helps the fungi grow. The groin area and the foot area (especially between the toes) are particularly vulnerable to a skin fungus infection.