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What is Tinea Manuum?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Tinea manuum is a contagious skin rash caused by fungi found in soil and is commonly spread by animals or through contact with an infected person. It can develop on the palms of the hands or between fingers — usually only developing on one hand. Similar to athlete’s foot, tinea manuum rashes may appear scabby and red and might itch or burn. Sometimes, the infection is confused with psoriasis or eczema because the rash might appear similar.

Ringworm is a form of tinea manuum that is found in the soil and is transmitted by animals, especially cats. The outer ridges of the circular rash are usually raised with normal looking skin in the middle. Ringworm is more common in children who play in the dirt and have frequent contact with pets, but gardeners also contract this infection.

Cattle, horses and other animals can also become infected with tinea manuum, posing a risk of infection to hunters and ranchers. Sweaty clothing should be removed after working around farm animals or after hunting trips because these types of fungi thrive in moist areas. Anyone with an open sore is more susceptible to fungal spores, as they may more easily enter the skin through a wound.

A more common form of tinea manuum comes from fungi that are spread from person-to-person contact or by touching infected objects. Blisters usually form on the palms of the hands and commonly burn and itch. They may appear in clusters and peel or ooze fluid. These sores also can bleed if the skin becomes dry or cracked.

Tinea manuum is routinely treated with antifungal creams or ointments. Is usually takes about a month before the rash completely heals and the person is no longer contagious. For severe rashes that penetrate deeply into the skin, oral medications are sometimes prescribed. If the rash becomes infected, antibiotics can be used along with the antifungal creams.

The infection can be prevented by thoroughly drying the skin after a bath or shower. Talc powders also can help keep skin dry in humid climates. To prevent the spread of the fungi, clothing, towels, gardening tools and other infected objects should not be shared. Surfaces that are touched by an infected person should be kept clean, and frequent hand washing might be helpful in arresting the spread of the disease.

A veterinarian can prescribe medication to treat household pets to prevent the spread of ringworm to their owners. Dogs usually show signs of crusted sores accompanied by hair loss. Sometimes, cats can carry the fungus without showing any symptoms of infection. Grooming implements and bedding used by pets should be disinfected as part of the treatment for ringworm.

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