Ringworm is a contagious skin fungus that passes from one person to another through direct contact, contaminated articles or dogs or cats infected with ringworm. Ringworm symptoms and what ringworm looks like depend on the area infected.
The fungus grows well in moist areas of the body but does not affect the mucous membranes. While ringworm does thrive in areas where more sweat or moisture build up, such as the groin area or folds of skin, other areas affected by ringworm include the scalp, face, hands, feet, nails and body skin.
The classic ringworm pattern is a circle. The edges of the circle may be a deep red and will itch and ooze. The skin in the center of the circle has distinct discoloration from that of the outer rim. Not all ringworm patterns are circles - the condition can present itself as scaly, crusty patches of skin. Feet infected with the fungi can have thick, hardened skin on the pads and heels. Scaling and inflammation between the toes or even blisters on the soles and between toes is a common form of ringworm also known as athlete's foot. Toenails or fingernails infected will be discolored, thick and brittle.
Areas of the lower face and neck region covered in a beard will experience itching, swelling and crusting. Areas of the scalp will have scaly patches. The fungus will cause bald spots in both the scalp and bearded areas.
Facial infections appear as red, scaly patches and are not in a circular pattern.
Palms of the hands and between the fingers may experience hardening of the skin layers known as hyperkeratosis resulting in a calloused look.
When the fungus affects the outer layers of skin, red spots or the classic red circle with raised edges appear and expand as the infection grows.
Ringworm of the groin area, also known as jock itch, focuses on the moist area of the folds of the groin area and spreads down the thighs.