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Tinea manuum is a type of skin infection that is usually caused by the same type of fungus that causes athlete's foot. Also called ringworm, this infection is contagious and can spread to different parts of the body.
This article will explore the types of tinea infections, what causes them, and who is at risk, as well as what to do if you develop one of these infections.
Types of Tinea Manuum
Tinea is the name given to a group of infections caused by a fungus, known most commonly as ringworm. There isn't just one kind of ringworm—in fact, there are more than 40 types of fungus that can cause these infections. They can include fungi from the genus:
Ringworm infections can be called by many names, and in most cases the name is based on the part of the body affected. Manuum refers to infections that develop on the hands.
- Tinea barbae: Affects beards
- Tinea capitis: Affects the scalp
- Tinea corporis: Affects other areas of the body like the arms or legs
- Tinea cruris: Affects the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks (jock itch)
- Tinea manuum: Affects the hands
- Tinea pedia: Affects the feet (athlete's foot)
- Tinea unguium: Affects toenails or fingernails (onychomycosis)
Tinea Manuum Symptoms
The symptoms of tinea infections can vary depending on where on the body they develop, but they all share the same general characteristics.
Symptoms of tinea manuum usually include:
- Itchy skin
- A rash
- Red, scaly, or cracked skin
- Hair loss
These symptoms usually develop four to 14 days after exposure to a fungus that can cause a tinea infection.
Although fungi are the exact cause of tinea infections, you may wonder how you come in contact with these organisms in the first place. Tinea infections are contagious, so if you have ringworm on any other part of your body and touch it, you can develop a tinea manuum infection on your hand.
The mold-like fungi that cause ringworm are called dermophytes, and they thrive in warm, moist conditions. You may be most at risk of developing a ringworm infection if:
- Your skin is wet for long periods of time.
- You have minor skin or nail injuries.
- You don't bathe or wash your skin and hair enough.
- You have close skin-to-skin contact with other people.
- You have contact with animals, especially cats.
You can also pick up a ringworm infection from surfaces such as shower floors and walls, pools, and shared clothing.
If you have had fungal skin infections before, you may recognize a tinea manuum rash when it happens. If you see a healthcare provider, they may ask you questions about your medical history, what medications you take, and your skin care habits before making a diagnosis.
In some cases, a diagnosis can be made with a basic visual inspection, but your healthcare provider may also scrape away flakes of skin from your rash for testing under a microscope.
Some signs that can differentiate tinea manuum from other skin infections include:
- There is an elevated border around the rash.
- The rash is on just one hand.
- The rash is different on each hand if it appears on both.
- The nails may also be affected.
Keeping your skin clean and dry and trying to not let the infection spread to other parts of your body is an important part of treating any ringworm infection. There are a number of over-the-counter products you can use for initial treatment. You want to look for products that contain one or more of the following antifungal medications:
If over-the-counter medications do not clear the infection, your healthcare provider may prescribe a stronger formulation of one of these medications, or even a systemic (oral) version. Medications may be needed for two to six weeks to clear a tinea infection, although prescription-based medications tend to work faster.
Oral medications are usually reserved for infections that occur on multiple areas of the body at once, like one hand and two feet. Some of the medications that may be prescribed for systemic treatment of a tinea infection include:
- Grispeg, Fulvicin (griseofulvin)
- Lamisil (terinafine)
- Sporonox (itraconazole)
- Diflucan (fluconazole)
Tinea manuum doesn't usually require this level of treatment, but tinea capitis, tinea unguium, and chronic tinea pedia are more difficult to clear with topical treatments alone.
While ringworm infections can spread to other parts of the body, individual infections are usually cured within about a month from starting. In rare cases, you may experience some complications from a tinea infection, usually from frequent scratching or other continued irritation. Severe skin infection or irritation may need to be treated with other medications, like antibiotics.
As your tinea infection heals, you may find relief with anti-inflammatory medications or various home remedies.
There are a number of treatments that may or may not be curative for a ringworm infection, but they can provide symptom relief. These include:
- Tea tree oil
- Soaking your hand in a vinegar and water solution
- Aloe vera
- Garlic and olive oil applied to the skin
- Neem leaf paste
- Coconut oil
Tips for Treating Fungal Infections
When using a topical antifungal treatment, how you use it is important. Take the following steps to maximize your efforts.
- Wash and dry the affected area before treatment.
- Apply the cream or powder starting at the outside of the rash and moving inward.
- Wash and dry your hand after applying.
- Use topical treatments twice per day for at least seven to 10 days.
- Do not apply bandages or dressings over the treated area.
You should also do the following to prevent the spread of an existing ringworm infection.
- Wash towels, clothes, and bedding in hot water and dry on the hottest settings you are able.
- Use new towels and washrags every time you bathe until the infection clears.
- Clean sinks, bathtubs, and bathroom floors while your infection is being treated.
- Wear fresh clothes each day.
- Do not share clothes.
- Shower after skin-to-skin contact with others or after playing contact sports.
Tinea manuum is commonly known as a ringworm infection. Although these infections can happen all over the body, manuum specifically refers to ringworm infections that develop on the hands. These infections are contagious, but can usually be cured in several weeks with either over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medications.
A Word From Verywell
A fungal rash can be itchy and irritating, but it doesn't have to be serious. Meticulous skin care and keeping the area dry, along with treatment with antifungal creams or powders, can resolve these infections quickly. Talk to your healthcare provider if the rash becomes worse during treatment or doesn't clear in about a month.