Are you trying to figure out if you're seeing evidence of Eczema or Ringworm? Obviously, your doctor will be able to correctly identify the issue, but we're here to help you better understand Discoid Eczema vs Ringworm so you can be prepared for what comes next.
Discoid eczema, also known as nummular eczema, is a skin condition where a person will notice coin-shaped or oval spots of brown or red, on their skin. These patches and spots usually appear on the arms, legs, torso, or hands. They can also appear in large patches or clusters in sizes of 1 to 4 inches. Unfortunately, the appearance of discoid eczema can also look like ringworm.
Symptoms of Eczema
Some symptoms include:
- burning and itching that gets worse at night
- skin dryness
- open spots that may develop scabs and crust over
If the spots become open, they are left vulnerable to infection from bacteria which can cause fever, redness, swelling, and foul-smelling discharge.
Potential Causes or Triggers of Eczema
Some things that may affect and/or cause discoid eczema include:
- Prior use of topical creams such as interferon or isotretinoin.
- Injuries to skin including bug bites, burns, and scrapes.
- Poor blood flow to the legs.
- History of atopic eczema or other allergies.
- Dry skin from cold weather.
Treating Discoid Eczema
Keeping your skin clean and well hydrated is the best way to fight discoid eczema. You can prevent and relieve flare ups and symptoms by doing the following:
- Use gentle soaps that are less likely to dry out your skin.
- Avoid wool fabrics as these can irritate eczema.
- Wear natural, soft fabrics to reduce any skin irritation such as cotton.
- Keep rooms cool and moist; use a humidifier to prevent skin from drying out.
- Apply fragrance free moisturizers to protect your skin from damage.
Your doctor may also end up prescribing you an oral or topical corticosteroid to treat discoid eczema. Some more treatment options are phototherapy (exposing the skin to UV light), topical calcineurin inhibitors, or coal tar cream. If your eczema becomes infected then your doctor will have to prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection.
Ringworm is also known as tinea corporis. It is a skin condition that can sometimes look similar to discoid eczema, hence the uncertainty and why people typically opt to learn more about what they're seeing on their skin. It is a type of fungus and not a worm, as the name implies. This condition causes ring-shaped patches on the skin that can appear anywhere on a person’s body such as:
- The groin; jock itch.
- The scalp; tinea capitis.
- The soles of the feet; tinea pedis or athlete’s foot.
Symptoms of Ringworm Include
- patches of skin that are lighter or even clear in the middle, making the area look ring-shaped
- patches that grow or spread to other parts of the body
- round patches of pink, brown, red, or gray skin
While ringworm is typically less severe than eczema, ringworm is contagious and eczema is not.
How Did I Get Ringworm?
You can get ringworm from:
- sharing razors
- playing contact sports
- improperly washing or drying your feet after being barefoot in public areas, such as pools or locker rooms
- sharing towels
- sharing clothing
Check out this article from the CDC regarding preventing the spread of ringworm when you do have it.
Treatment for Ringworm
Ringworm can be treated over the counter using one of several methods. Among your options are:
- Anti-Fungal Creams
It will typically take 2 to 4 weeks for the fungus to disappear completely and if it does not clear up within that time frame, you will need to see a doctor. A doctor or even a dermatologist can prescribe stronger medications that are anti-fungal to treat the ringworm.
While learning more about ringworm vs eczema is a good thing, the best way to confirm what you think it may be, is to visit your doctor or dermatologist. You don't want to stress over potentially being contagious if it is in fact ringworm (tinea corporis). And you can gain some peace of mind once it's determined and you can start treating it, whichever skin condition it may be.