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Ringworm resistant to common antifungals for first time in US: What to know about the skin infection

Two cases of a common fungal infection known as tinea, or ringworm, failed to respond to standard treatment due to a recently emerged fungus in the United States, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

“Tinea is a common, highly contagious, superficial infection of the skin, hair or nails caused by dermatophyte molds,” the CDC said in the report.

A new fungal species, known as Trichophyton indotineae, has resulted in a severe epidemic of drug-resistant ringworm in South Asia in the past decade due to the misuse and overuse of topical antifungal treatment and corticosteroids, the report also said.

DRUG-RESISTANT RINGWORM DETECTED IN US FOR FIRST TIME, CDC SAYS

Ringworm infection

Two cases of a common fungal infection known as tinea, or ringworm, failed to respond to standard treatment due to a recently emerged fungus in the United States. (iStock)

The red outline of the rash resembles how a typical worm appears when both its ends meet. 

“It is from a group of fungi, known as dermatophytes, [which] can attack any part of the body,” Glatt said.

He noted that many different types of fungi can cause ringworm, including Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton. 

“It is the cause of athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, when it attacks the feet and toes, and ‘jock itch,’ or tinea cruris, when it attacks the groin.”

Recognizing the symptoms of ringworm

The symptoms can vary depending on the specific body part that’s infected, but ringworm generally causes an itchy, ring-shaped rash with a scaly appearance. 

“Symptoms typically appear between four and 14 days after the skin comes in contact with the fungi that cause ringworm,” the CDC noted.

Ringworm of the groin, or “jock itch,” often appears as a red, scaly, itchy rash on the inner thighs.

Barefoot in locker room

Ringworm can spread in damp environments, such as locker room floors or swimming pools. The CDC advises against walking barefoot in locker rooms or public showers. (iStock)

Ringworm can also spread in damp environments, such as locker room floors or swimming pools.

The CDC advises against sharing household items such as clothing, towels or combs with those infected with ringworm. It also advises that people not walk barefoot in locker rooms or public showers.

Treatment options

“Usually, these infections are not life-threatening and can be treated with various over-the-counter creams or lotions,” Glatt noted.

The other case was a 47-year-old woman without significant medical problems; she developed an itchy rash typical of ringworm on her thighs and buttocks.

Highly contagious fungus has a kill rate of over 30% if it becomes invasive Video

The 47-year-old woman initially developed the rash while in Bangladesh, but the pregnant patient reported no international travel — “suggesting potential local U.S. transmission of T. indotineae,” per the CDC.

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The agency also said that patients should be educated about ways to prevent the spread of fungi that cause ringworm.

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