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Body Ringworm

(Tinea Corporis)

By Denise M. Aaron, MD, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Body ringworm is a dermatophyte (fungal) infection of the face, trunk, arms, and legs.

Tinea corporis is a type of dermatophytosis (see Overview of Dermatophytoses (Ringworm, Tinea)). Tinea corporis is usually caused by Trichophyton or Microsporum.

The infection generally causes pink-to-red, round patches with raised scaly borders that tend to be clear in the center. Sometimes the rash is itchy. Tinea corporis can develop anywhere on the skin and can spread rapidly to other parts of the body or to other people with whom there is close bodily contact.

Tine corporis is usually diagnosed by a physical examination. Sometimes doctors analyze skin scrapings under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.


Tinea corporis is treated with an antifungal cream, lotion, or gel that is applied directly to the affected area (topical) twice a day and continued for 7 to 10 days after the rash completely disappears, which usually takes about 2 to 3 weeks. If the cream is discontinued too soon, the infection may not be eradicated, and the rash will return. Several days may pass before antifungal creams, lotions, or gels reduce symptoms. .

Infections that are difficult to treat and relatively widespread can occur in people infected with Trichophyton rubrum and in people with debilitating diseases. For such people, the most effective therapy is an antifungal drug, such as itraconazole or terbinafine, taken by mouth for 2 to 3 weeks.

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