What does the term ringworm mean?
The term ringworm or ringworms refers to fungal infections that are on the surface of the skin. The name is derived from the early belief that the infection was due to a worm, which it is not. Ringworm is a fungal infection in the skin. Nevertheless, the name ringworm remains. Some of these fungi produce round spots on the skin, but many do not. On the other hand, many round, red spots on the skin are not due to a fungal infection. A physical examination of the affected skin, evaluation of skin scrapings under the microscope, and culture tests can help doctors make the appropriate distinctions. A proper diagnosis is essential to successful treatment.
The medical term for ringworm is tinea. (Tinea is the Latin name for a growing worm.) Doctors add another word to indicate where the fungus is located. Tinea capitis, for instance, refers to scalp ringworm, tinea corporis to fungus of the body, tinea pedis to fungus of the feet, and so on.