Ringworm in relation to the immune system
If you have ringworm, you may think that you have worms in your skin or a disease caused by worms. You have neither. Ringworm is actually a skin infection caused by fungus. So it has nothing to do with worms.
What is ringworm?
Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis or tinea, is a fungal infection of the skin. The name “ringworm” is a wrong name because the infection is caused by a fungus, not a worm. Ringworm infection can affect humans and animals. Ringworm usually starts as a flat scaly area on the skin that can be red and itchy. This area develops a slightly raised edge that expands outward and forms a rough circular ring. The contours of the ring can be quite irregular and look like the wavy outline of a snake or worm. The inside of the ring can be clear, flaky or marked with a scattering of red bumps. For some people, several rings develop at the same time and may overlap. The infection can affect the skin of the scalp, feet, groin, beard or other areas.
Who can get ringworm?
Ringworm is common. Anyone can get ringworm, but people with a weakened immune system run the risk of infections and may have problems fighting a ringworm infection. People who use public showers or changing rooms, athletes (especially those involved in contact sports such as wrestling), people who wear tight shoes and sweat excessively, and people who have close contact with animals, may also be more likely to come into contact with the ringworm fungi cause.
What does the immune system have to do with ringworm?
Ringworm is a fungal infection, and fungal infections have a major impact on the immune system. This is because fungal spores can spread through the body very quickly and often escape the actions of the immune system. Only when the fungi actually start to grow, the immune system will be able to take action. So actually the cells and bacteria that make up your immune system are constantly at war with the fungi. And like in any war, there are casualties and the immune system is weakened. If another problem, such as a virus, occurs, the immune system has much more difficulty fighting it. Because it already has its hands full.
Groups that often suffer from ringworm are contact athletes, such as wrestlers. This is due to the contact with the opponent and the mat, causing minor damage to the skin. These damages form an ideal breeding ground for the fungus to grow. Because people come into direct contact with each other during wrestling, ringworm often spreads very quickly in a wrestling club. Wrestlers are not allowed to train or participate in competitions if they suffer from ringworm. That is why this infection is a major problem within the wrestling world. Taking good care of yourself and keeping yourself clean, not sharing personal items such as a brush or clothing and, above all, ensuring a strong immune system are ways to prevent ringworm.