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Definition of Dermatophytes (Ringworm)

Dermatophytes are fungi that cause skin, hair, and nail infections. Infections caused by these fungi are also sometimes known as "ringworm" or "tinea." Despite the name "ringworm," this infection is not caused by a worm, but by a type of fungus. There are many types of infections caused by this fungus. The infections are generally identified by its location on the body.

Some common ringworm infections:

  • Tinea barbae – ringworm of the bearded parts of the face and neck
  • Tinea capitis – ringworm of the scalp
  • Tinea corporis – ringworm of the body
  • Tinea cruris – ringworm of the groin, skin folds, inner thighs, or buttocks, also known as jock itch
  • Tinea faciei – ringworm of the face (other than bearded parts)
  • Tinea pedis - ringworm of the feet, also known as athlete’s foot
  • Tinea unguium / onychomycosis - ringworm of the toenail or fingernail

There are many different species of dermatophytes that can cause infection in humans. Some species spread from person to person (Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton tonsurans) and other species (Microsporum canis) spread to people from animals like cats and dogs.

Dermatophytes like to live on moist areas of the skin, such as places where there are skin folds. They can also live on household items, such as clothing, towels, and bedding.

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