It's red, scaly, itchy and looks like it has a red halo around it. Is it Lyme Disease? No, chances are, it's only ringworm.
Ringworm (tinea) is a very common fungal skin condition caused by dermatophytes. It is most common in children, but can affect anyone. It usually has nothing to do with personal hygiene or lack thereof.
Ringworm is common because it is so very contagious. A person can get it from direct contact with another person or a pet, or by touching something an infected person has touched. It is less commonly contracted from soil, but it can happen. Children tend to be affected most frequently, since they are usually in closer contact with each other than adults. The most common forms of the fungus in adults are probably athlete's foot and jock itch. Some people also have it under their nails.
Most people who have the fungus don't know where or how they got it. The infection appears 10 to 14 days after exposure, usually as a small, itchy pimple. It is usually ignored until it gets worse. In fact, it is the intense itching that often sends people to the doctor or drugstore for relief. If it progresses to the "halo" stage, the sufferer may think he or she has some horrible disease, but the comforting reality is that ringworm is generally easy to cure. Drugstores are full of over-the-counter remedies for it, athlete's foot and jock itch.
A sufferer should look for topical creams or sprays that have miconazole or clotrimazole as an active ingredient. These are both fungicides. Many products also have an itch reliever, but the sufferer may want to get something separate for the itching, as well. If symptoms persist for more than four weeks, a person should go to a physician. The doctor can prescribe an oral anti-fungal medication that will usually take care of the problem.
Ringworm can be prevented. Athletes should wear shower shoes in the shower rooms. Parents and teachers should clean gym or sleeping mats after each use, and should have family pets treated for the fungus. People should also not share headgear of any kind. The fungus is annoying, but rarely serious.