Athlete’s Foot (Tinea pedis, “pedis” is the Latin word for foot), Jock itch and Ringworm, caused by a common tinea fungus infection, are not a serious concern. Tinea is a fungus that can grow on your skin, hair or nails. As it grows, it spreads out in a circle, leaving normal-looking skin in the middle. This makes it look like a ring. At the edge of the ring, the skin is lifted up by the irritation and looks red and scaly.
Tinea infection may look like a worm under the skin – thus the term “ringworm.” However, there really isn’t a worm under the skin. Symptoms include itching, burning and cracked, scaly skin.
Tinea grows best in damp, dark and warm places, which is why it often develops between your toes. If left untreated these types of tinea may spread to your toenails, making them thick and crumbly. This is called tinea unguium — “unguium” comes from the Latin word for nail. It can spread to your hands and fingernails.
You can get tinea infections from damp surfaces, such as locker room floors and public beach showers.
Treatments include over-the-counter antifungal creams for most cases and prescription medicines for more serious infections.
A fungus rarely spreads below the surface of the body to cause serious illness. Your body usually prevents this. Tinea infections usually don’t leave scars after the fungus is gone. However, people who have weak immune systems, such as people who have HIV or AIDS, may have a hard time getting rid of a fungal infection.