There are a whopping nine types of ringworm, and each one has a specific name that corresponds to an affected area. Each type can have unique symptoms, but there are some commonalities throughout such as red, itchy spots.
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Tinea corporis: Mainly affecting the torso, arms and/or legs, tinea corporis is one of the most common ringworm types that people get.1
Symptoms include circular, red spots that can come with scales and itching. Sometimes, the spots may even have blister-like lesions, or appear in the hair follicles, resulting in pustules and nodules.2
Tinea cruris: Nicknamed "jock itch," tinea cruris usually appears as reddish-brown rashes that start from the folds of the groin and may spread to one or both thighs.3
Note that this type of ringworm can be confused with intertrigo, a rash caused by chafed skin.
Tinea barbae: Also known as "barber's itch," tinea barbae affects the facial hair area. Symptoms include red, lumpy pustules and crusting around the facial hair.
The fungi generally responsible for tinea barbae are T. verrucosum (from cattle), and T. mentagrophytes var. equinum (from horses). Farmers are commonly affected with this type due to their frequent direct contact with animals.6
Tinea manuum: Specifically affecting one or both hands, symptoms of tinea manuum include circular spots, which can be elevated.
The cause is usually contact from other infected areas, whether from yourself (such as scratching your athlete's foot) or from other infected people.
Animals such as hedgehogs, cats, dogs and cattle, and infected soil may also cause tinea manuum.7
Tinea faciei: This type specifically appears on the face, minus the facial hair and scalp areas. The spots tend to be round or oval, and red in color with scaly patches.
Possible causes for getting facial ringworm include accidental scratching with fungi-infected fingernails.
Tinea faciei can be confused with similar-looking ailments, such as psoriasis, rosacea and atopic dermatitis, which require different treatment from ringworm, so make sure you know the cause before undergoing treatment.8
Tinea pedis: Affecting one foot (or both), tinea pedis is commonly known as “athlete’s foot.” It thrives in humid environments, and people whose feet sweat excessively are prone to getting this type.
Symptoms include moist, peeling irritable skin in the cleft between the fourth and fifth toes, dry patches on top of your feet, and blisters on the side.
Athlete’s foot can appear in children, but it is more common in adults participating in recreational or sports activities, hence the name.9
Tinea capitis: Affecting the scalp, tinea capitis is common in children, but adults can get this too. Symptoms include itchiness, round scaly spots on the skin, and small black dots from where hair strands have broken off.
When you find these symptoms, contact your doctor right away, as the spots can lead to permanent hair loss and scarring. This is especially crucial for children, as their self-image and social adjustment may suffer.10,11,12
Tinea unguium: Also known as onychomycosis, tinea unguium affects your fingernails and/or toenails, causing them to turn yellow, thick and crumbly.
Tinea incognito: This type only happens when a prior tinea has its appearance altered, usually by topical steroid cream. Hence, any of the types listed above can become tinea incognito.
Tinea incognito usually stems from a person being given a wrong diagnosis and wrong treatment (when the doctor thinks that the patient has dermatitis, for example).
Once tinea incognito sets in, the rash takes on a different form and the life span extends, becoming more irritable and pustular. Hence, it’s important to be absolutely sure you have ringworm before undergoing treatment.15