Northside Health Library

Tinea corporis


Tinea corporis is a skin infection due to fungi. It is also called ringworm of the body.

See also:

Alternative Names

Fungal infection - body; Infection - fungal - body; Tinea of the body; Tinea circinata; Ringworm - body


Tinea corporis is a common skin disorder among children. However, it may occur in people of all ages. It is caused by mold-like fungi called dermatophytes.

Fungi thrive in warm, moist areas. The following raise your risk for a fungal infection:

  • Long-term wetness of the skin (such as from sweating)
  • Minor skin and nail injuries
  • Poor hygiene

Tinea corporis can spread easily to other people. You can catch the condition if you come into direct contact with an area of ringworm on someone's body, or if you touch contaminated items such as:

  • Clothing
  • Combs
  • Pool surfaces
  • Shower floors and walls

The fungi can also be spread by pets (cats are common carriers).


Symptoms may include itching.

The rash begins as a small area of red, raised spots and pimples. The rash slowly becomes ring-shaped, with a red-colored, raised border and a clearer center. The border may look scaly.

The rash may occur on the arms, legs, face, or other exposed body areas.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider can often diagnose tinea corporis by how the skin looks.

In some cases, the following tests may be done:


Keep the skin clean and dry.

You can buy antifungal cream without a prescription, or your health care provider may prescribe it.

  • Wash and dry the area first.
  • Apply the cream, beginning just outside the area of the rash and moving toward the center. Be sure to wash and dry your hands afterward.
  • Use the cream twice a day for 7 to 10 days.
  • Do not use a bandage over ringworm.
  • Creams that contain miconazole, clotrimazole, ketoconazole, terbenifine, or oxiconazole are often effective in controlling ringworm.

Once treatment has started, a child can return to school.

To prevent the infection from spreading:

  • Wash all towels in warm, soapy water and then dry them.
  • Use a new towel and washcloth every time.
  • Clean sinks, bathtubs, and bathroom floors well after using.
  • Wear clean clothes every day and do not share clothes

Your health care provider will prescribe medicine taken by mouth to treat ringworm that:

  • Is severe or covers a large area of your body
  • Passes deeper into the skin to the hair follicle, such as in a beard.

Antibiotics may be needed to treat secondary bacterial infections.

Infected pets should also be treated.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Ringworm usually responds to topical medications within 4 weeks. Severe or resistant cases usually respond quickly to antifungal medicines taken by mouth.

Possible Complications

  • Bacterial skin infections, cellulitis
  • Skin disorders such as pyoderma or dermatophytid
  • Spread of tinea to feet, scalp, groin, or nails
  • Whole-body (systemic) side effects of medications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if ringworm does not improve with self-care.


Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2009:pp 491-523.

Hay RJ. Dermatophytosis and other superficial mycoses. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier;2009:chap 267.

Review Date: 10/4/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Northside Hospital - Atlanta

1000 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 851-8000

Northside Hospital - Cherokee

450 Northside Cherokee Blvd.
Canton, GA 30115
(770) 224-1000

Northside Hospital - Forsyth

1200 Northside Forsyth Drive
Cumming, GA 30041
(770) 844-3200

Copyright © 2017 Northside Hospital