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HomeskinNummular Eczema vs Ringworm: What's the Difference?

Nummular Eczema vs Ringworm: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between nummular eczema and ringworm?

The main difference is that ringworm is contagious and nummular eczema is not.The main difference is that ringworm is contagious and nummular eczema is not.

The main difference is that ringworm is contagious and nummular eczema is not.

Ringworm can be seen in one or two patches, unlike nummular eczema that has multiple patches.

There will be a history of trauma, burns, and bites with nummular eczema and no such history with ringworm.

Your dermatologist may diagnose the rash by examining your skin. Ringworm usually has few vesicles, scaly, and raised ring-like narrow borders.

However, if you have open sores within any of the rashes, your dermatologist may gently scrape your skin and take a sample to test whether you have staph (bacterial) infection or ringworm.

Once your dermatologist diagnoses and treats the rash, you may get better within 7-10 days. Nummular eczema takes longer to heal than ringworm. Sometimes, it may take up to a year, and it may return if not cured completely. In extreme cases, it may scar or cause the affected skin to become darker.

Ringworm heals within a week after treatment. Sometimes, it may take six weeks. Ringworm does not usually show recurrence unless you have an underlying cause such as diabetes or you sweat too much.

What is nummular eczema?

Nummular eczema is also known as discoid eczema or nummular dermatitis. If you have this rash, you may get

  • Coin-shaped patches on your legs, arms, back, buttocks, foot, and hands.
  • Extreme itching and burning lesions.
  • Oozing and crusted scaly lesions.

The causes of this rash are not clear. However, you may get this eczema if you have

Skin reaction to another type of eczema:

  • Atopic dermatitis (familial condition inflammation of the skin, especially in children).
  • Stasis dermatitis (inflammation of the leg skin due to fluid build-up).
  • Contact dermatitis (inflammation of the skin after contact with certain substances).

Additionally, men are more prone to get this rash than women. Prompt diagnosis and the right treatment are very important.

What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a common skin infection also known as dermatophytosis, dermatophyte infection, or tinea corporis. It is not a worm infection, but it is caused by fungi (mold) that live in the dead tissues of our skin. It is so-called because the rash has a ring-like shape and spreads in a ring-like manner. Ringworm is highly contagious.

You may get red, itchy, and scaly patches with sharp edges. These are red at the edges and have a normal looking center. Sometimes, the rash may blister and ooze. Scalp infection of ringworm is very common in children. It mainly spreads through skin-to-skin contact by sharing personal objects or even through an infected animal. 

It can be commonly misdiagnosed with nummular eczema, tick-borne disease (Lyme disease), or spider bite. Therefore, consult your dermatologist if you get ring-like patches. Ringworm may develop at the following sites on the body:

  • On your scalp
  • In between your toes (athlete’s foot/tinea pedis)
  • In between your skin folds of the groin region (jock’s itch/tinea cruris)
  • Over the cheeks (barber’s itch)
  • On your face (tinea faciei)
  • On your hands or even nails

It is easily cured with antifungal medications such as terbinafine, Sporanox (itraconazole), etc.

How can you prevent these skin infections?

The best way to prevent is to:

  • Keep your skin dry and clean.
  • Do not share personal items such as towels, clothes, soaps, and creams.
  • Change your undergarments at least once a day.
  • Wash your hands after playing with pets, especially if your pet has ringworm.
  • Do not wear certain metal or dyed substances if you have hypersensitive skin.

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