Do I have eczema or ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal condition characterised by itchy, red, scaly, inflamed circles that spread outwards leaving pale skin in the center. The appearance is not unlike the healing lesion of Nummular (discoid) Eczema.

Nummular eczema features stubborn red, inflamed, scaly coin shaped lesions which in the recovery phase heal from the inside out leaving reddened rings with a pale center.

Although similar in appearance the two conditions are not at all related.

Ringworm is a fungal infection

Ringworm is a common skin infection caused by fungi which is transferred usually from animal to person but may also be transferred from person to person.

The condition is contagious and more common in children as personal hygiene is not as developed, and physical contact and the sharing of garments is common.

Nummular eczema is an inflammatory skin condition

Nummular eczema on the other hand is a form of chronic dermatitis. The lesions tend to be widespread and affect predominantly older people with dry skin. The condition is not contagious and does not result from poor personal hygiene.

As the two conditions are often difficult to distinguish from each other a doctor’s opinion is often required to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Whats the difference?

It is important to know which condition you have as treatment is quite different for both. Ringworm can be cured and responds quickly to good hygiene, dry conditions and antifungal creams (eg. Tineacide)

Nummular eczema on the other hand has no known cure and treatment involves moisturizing and hydrating the skin and regular use of emollients.

Mel Sinclair, RN