Tinea is the technical term for ringworm, which is a fungal infection. It is referred to as ringworm as it is characterized by a round or oval rash. Manuum refers to the hands. When ringworm affects the feet, it is called tinea pedis, commonly known as athlete’s foot.
This article explores the appearance, symptoms, causes, and treatments for tinea manuum.
- Tinea manuum is often mistaken for other skin conditions that affect the hands.
- It typically starts as a small patch and gradually becomes larger.
- Anyone may be affected by tinea manuum.
- A doctor will usually recommend over-the-counter topical antifungals, or prescribe a stronger version if needed.
Tinea manuum is an itchy rash that may affect one or both hands. It often starts on the palm and may spread to the fingers or back of the hand. Things to look for include:
- A ring: A red raised border with a patch of skin that looks like it has healed in the center, giving the appearance of a ring, which is what gives ringworm its name. This symptom is most likely to appear when the rash is caused by animal or soil fungi.
- Dry, peeling, or scaly skin: A patch of skin that is dry, peeling, or scaly with a mild itch may appear and gradually spread. This symptom is most common when the tinea is caused by a human fungus.
- Tiny blisters: A cluster of tiny blisters may appear on the sides of fingers or on the palm that may ooze a sticky, clear fluid.
- Itching or burning: The rash may be mild to moderately itchy, causing some discomfort.
- Skin discoloration: If the rash is there for a long time the skin may become discolored. This change in color can also occur as the tinea heals.
Tinea manuum vs. other skin conditions
Tinea manuum is often mistaken for other skin conditions that affect the hands. It is important to be able to tell these conditions apart so that people receive the correct treatment.
It is always best to speak to a doctor to get a diagnosis. However, looking for some distinguishing features may help people tell tinea manuum apart from other conditions.
Other conditions include:
- Hand dermatitis: This commonly affects both hands, whereas tinea manuum may only affect one hand. Hand dermatitis does not have the ring (raised border around a healed patch) that is characteristic of tinea manuum. Hand dermatitis is often itchier than tinea manuum.
- Psoriasis: Although characterized by raised red patches, psoriasis differs from tinea manuum in that the patches may be silvery and will not have a ring appearance. As tinea manuum is a fungal infection, it will spread if left untreated. In contrast, psoriasis is less likely to spread.
- Exfoliative keratolysis: This is a skin condition that affects the palms of the hands. It is characterized by blisters that peel. The skin under the blisters can become red, but the condition does not feature a ring-like rash.
The ring-like rash that is characteristic of tinea manuum happens when the skin on a person’s hand becomes infected by dermatophytes, which are a type of fungi.
Infections caused by dermatophytes are not uncommon. Every person has an estimated risk of 10 to 20 percent of being affected by one during their lifetime.
A common way for a person’s hands to be infected with fungus is by scratching or touching another area of the body that has a fungal infection. For example, the feet or the groin.
According to the American Family Physician, a dermatophyte fungal infection can spread from:
- person to person
- animals to humans
- soil to humans
How the skin becomes infected
A person’s skin is made up of skin cells, and a protein called keratin. Healthy skin is tough and waterproof and can withstand fungi and microbes and usually heals quickly after injury.
However, sometimes a person’s skin can become unhealthy or broken. This means that when it comes into contact with fungi, it can become infected.
Dermatophytes are a type of fungi that can infect the outer layers of the skin. They produce a special enzyme called keratinases. This enzyme digests the keratin protein that makes the skin strong. This allows the fungi to grow on the skin and spread, causing a rash to appear.