An introduction to facial ringworm
Facial ringworm, otherwise known as tinea faciei, is a variant of ringworm that commonly affects facial areas such as the forehead, around the eyes, the nose, cheeks and chin.
It is considered to be rare, although it is often misdiagnosed or initially confused with other skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea. When facial ringworm occurs in men around the beard area, it is known as tinea barbae .
As with other fungal infections, facial ringworm is caused by a strain of the Candida albicans fungus, which is found naturally on your skin and in your digestive tracts as a yeast.
When this fungus is provided with adequate breeding conditions, such as sweat, warmth and darkness, it can reproduce exponentially, eating your dead skin cells and triggering an adverse reaction on the surface of your skin.
The causes of facial ringworm
The causes of facial ringworm are similar to the triggers of other fungal infections such as athlete’s foot or jock’s itch. It is often your lifestyle and dietary habits, alongside the strength of your immune system, that determine your susceptibility to contracting the infection.
Once you are able to recognise these causal factors, though, it becomes easier to take preventative steps towards avoiding the contagion and relieving your troubling symptoms.
Weak immune system: Your immune system plays a crucial role in protecting your body, keeping it safe from potential threats and invasive germs. When your immune system is working well, you can resist infections and viruses; however, if your immune system is exhausted, this is when problems can occur.
If your immune system is under pressure either by an existing health condition such as diabetes or obesity, or a psychological complaint such as stress, then it struggles to combat pathogens and thus bacteria is able to enter your body more easily. This can make you more vulnerable to a fungal infection like facial ringworm.
Poor nutrition: If you fall into bad dietary habits it can have a knock-on effect on other areas of your body, particularly your digestive tract. Foods that have high levels of sugar, carbohydrates and saturated fat often feed the unfriendly bacteria found in your gut, increasing the population of candida yeast. When this happens, it can aggravate your symptoms and fuel fungal reproduction.
Stress: Stress can have some extremely negative repercussions for your immune and digestive systems. This is because stress stimulates your sympathetic nervous system and can inspire a ‘fight or flight’ reaction from your immune system.
Believing that you are in a life or death situation, the immune system will release a wave of inflammatory chemicals to dilate your blood vessels and accelerate your pulse. Your blood sugar levels will also rise, providing the unfriendly bacteria in your gut with plenty of food, potentially upsetting the balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria.
Your stress levels can also impact your digestion, causing bouts of constipation, which can also affect your unfriendly bacteria. Now imagine this process keeps repeating itself – eventually your immune system is going to get sluggish and the friendly bacteria in your gut will be overwhelmed, allowing the candida yeast to multiply uninhibited.
Poor hygiene: Sweat can encourage the production of bad bacteria found on the surface of your skin, allowing fungus to reproduce in a warm, moist environment.
If you wash daily, especially after vigorous exercise, it can deprive the bacteria of the conditions they need to multiply, however, special care should be taken when you are drying yourself, as dampness can provide fungal spores with the correct surroundings to reproduce.
Dry yourself thoroughly and make sure that you wash your towels regularly.
Direct contact: Fungal infections are highly contagious, which is why they thrive so well in overcrowded and hectic environments. Skin to skin contact should be avoided at all costs, or you can contract the illness from an affected party and provide the disease with a whole new breeding ground.
Animals are also prime suspects when it comes to the spreading of ringworm, so make sure your pets are clean and ringworm free before giving them a pat.
Indirect contact: As unfair as it may seem, you do not even have to be in close contact with a sufferer of ringworm to catch the condition. Fungal spores can linger on clothing, bed linen and towels so you should avoid sharing these materials with other people and was them regularly.
It might be an idea to dry your laundry with a tumble dryer rather than leaving them outside as bacteria can still breed on damp material and fungal spores might land on your clothing, and permeate your skin.
Obesity: Obesity can be a health condition with serious repercussions. If you are overweight, you are stressing your immune system, which may struggle to keep up with the increased demands of your body. Obesity also suggests poor nutrition and the consumption of trigger foods rich in sugar and saturated fight. To compound these side-effects, you are also more likely to sweat if you are obese, aiding and abetting the reproduction of bad bacteria on the surface of your skin.
Sunlight: Exposure to the sun might seem like a good idea, drying out the damp skin pores that are susceptible to fungal infections. However, sunlight can be quite harsh on skin, especially skin that is already flaking and experiencing a lot of stress. This is particularly true with the face, as this area of your skin is often more visible than other parts of your body and sunlight might just exacerbate existing symptoms of dryness, scaling and weakness.
The symptoms of facial ringworm
The symptoms of facial ringworm are often more visible and psychological impactful than other forms of fungal infections that occur on areas of the body that can be concealed. The condition can be similar to scalp ringworm in the affect that it has on your confidence and the way it can influence your emotional behaviour.
Inflammation: Inflammation is your body’s way of trying to protect the affected area from further harm. The immune system releases inflammatory chemicals such as histamine, which will often trigger swelling in the face in order to help the damaged skin cells heal.
Ringworm rash: Ringworm is infamous for causing a red circular rash to appear on the sufferer’s body. This rash can occur on the face and it is usually one way to distinguish your condition from other skin complaints such as eczema or rosacea.
Itching: Whenever your skin is dry, cracked and irritated you will immediately want to scratch it in order to shift the dead skin cells and ease the discomfort. However, itching should be firmly discouraged in patients of facial ringworm as it can interrupt the skin’s healing process and cause fungal spores to come to rest on your hands, possibly spreading the infection to other areas of your body.
Dry skin: Dry skin is a common occurrence in many different skin conditions. When the fungal spores attack and eat our skin cells, it can weaken the membranes of the remaining skin cells, making them more prone to flaking and becoming cracked and scaly.
Blistering: Blisters can appear during ringworm and are usually filled with pus. These blisters should not be scratched or squeezed as it will only aggravate them and potentially stop them from healing. However, if your blisters start to ooze larges amounts of blood, you should seek advice from your doctor to avoid further health complaints such as cellulitis.
Stress: Stress is a psychological condition that can have great influence over your immune system. When you are confronted with an infection with physical symptoms as visible as facial ringworm, you can find that you feel more vulnerable, and uneasy in public situations. This will then trigger your ‘flight or fight’ instincts, stressing out the adrenal glands, and placing pressure on your immune system.
Facial ringworm can be one of the more difficult fungal infections to cope with, not only because of how it impacts our psychological state but also because of how exposed and vulnerable the skin on our face can be. There are a number of home remedies that have survived the test of time, so it might be worth having a look at some of them.
Relax: If you find that you are becoming more and more stressed by the physical symptoms of facial ringworm, then it is important to try to find ways of relaxing. Stress will only make you feel miserable and it will definitely have a knock-on effect on your facial ringworm symptoms.
Try to be kind to yourself – set aside some time in the day for pursuing the activities that you want to pursue; read a book, practice gentle exercises such as yoga or try mindful meditation.
Good nutrition: Your diet can be a useful weapon in the fight against the fungal infections. Foods such as onions, garlic and yoghurt contain natural anti-fungal properties, meaning that they will discourage the growth of fungi in your digestive tract and limit the reproductive capabilities of fungal spores.
It is also important to support your immune system at this time as well, so eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to give your adrenal glands a much needed boost. You could try whipping up one of our nutritious smoothies or start replacing caffeine-rich beverages with healthier substitutes, such as Bambu or herbal teas.
Wear protective clothing: If the sun is irritating your facial ringworm symptoms then you could try wearing a hat or sunglasses to keep the sensitive skin around your eyes out of way of harsh UV lights. If you enjoy pottering around in the garden or enjoy a profession that keeps you in contact with animals, then remember to wear gloves as our furry friends are prime carriers of fungal infections such as ringworm.
Avoid contagions: If you are trying to prevent the spread of ringworm, or simply trying to avoid the infection altogether, then you should be aware of whom you are interacting with.If you know that your friend is getting over the infection then going up to them and giving them a big hug is probably not a good idea.
Pets also carry fungal spores on their fur and if they are suffering from ringworm you should show them some kindness and get them treated by the vets straight away.
Good hygiene: If you are fond of exercising, then it is imperative that you shower properly after working out. Sweat provides a breeding ground for bad bacteria and paves the way for the spread of fungal infections. After you shower, dry yourself thoroughly, including your face, feet and hair and make sure that the rest of your home is cleaned regularly to avoid the condition spreading to other members of your household.
Garlic: The Department of Botany and Microbiology at the Kuwait University researched the anti-fungal properties of garlic and uncovered that allicin, a compound found in garlic and onions restricted the reproduction of the fungal strain responsible for infections such as ringworm.1
Garlic can be diluted and distributed topically to the affected areas to reduce inflammation and the growth of fungal spores, or you could try taking a supplement like Allicin max, which contains high levels of allicin.
Corn flour paste: An old one but a good one, corn flour paste is made using corn flour starch and water. Corn starch is great at absorbing water, meaning that it can deprive the bacteria and fungal spores of the conditions that they need to survive.
Yoghurt: Yoghurt, like garlic, is an anti-fungal food that can be applied topically to the affected area. It can regulate the reproduction of fungal spores because of the good bacteria that the product contains. This friendly bacteria stems the growth of fungal spores and the spread of bad bacteria.
Herbal teas: There so many benefits to drinking herbal teas that it may not come as a surprise to find out that they can also fight fungal infections. Teas such as ginger, chamomile, liquorice and goldenseal all contain anti-fungal properties, making them a useful tool when it comes to tackling fungal infections. These teas should be drank several times a day or applied topically to the area most affected by the infection.2
There are a variety of herbal remedies available to tackle the symptoms of ringworm. If you find that your symptoms are still persisting after two weeks, then you should seek medical advice from your GP to avoid further complications.
Neem cream: Neem Cream is made from extracts of neem leaves, a popular ingredient in many different herbal solutions. Neem has many beneficial properties that make it excellent at soothing dry, irritated skin. Just be aware that this product should not be used by those that suffer from nut allergies, or pregnant/breastfeeding women
Echinaforce®: Echinaforce® is a remedy that is often taken to help with colds and flu because it works to support the immune system and encourage immune function. It is made from extracts of Echinacea and can be taken by children over the age of 12. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it might be best to speak to your doctor before taking this treatment
Molkosan®: Molkosan® is a digestive remedy that improves the count of good bacteria in your gut. This good bacteria then goes on to regulate the amount of yeast in our intestines, reducing the possibility of catching a fungal infection and easing pre-existing ringworm symptoms.
Stress relief daytime: If your symptoms are starting to affect your moods and disturbing your sleeping pattern then you can always try taking Stress Relief Daytime. This is a gentle remedy designed to help you cope in situation of pressure and stress.
Conventional medicines often concentrate on alleviating your physical symptoms, as well as eliminating the root of your discomfort - the candida yeast.
It's important to remember, though, that most traditional medicines can stimulate a number of unpleasant side-effects. If you feel that you are suffering unduly due to your mediciation, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
Anti-fungal creams: The first direction you will normally be pointed in will be over the counter anti-fungal creams. These are applied topically to the affected area but, if they do not work, it is important that you speak to your doctor as they might be able to prescribe another anti-fungal alternative.
Steroid creams: Steroid creams are considered to be a step higher up the strength ladder than the traditional anti-fungal creams. However, they should not be taken for more than 10 days consecutively as they can trigger a variety of unpleasant side-effects.
Anti-fungal tablets: Anti-fungal tablets have to be prescribed to you by your doctor. They are taken orally as directed by your doctor, but like steroid creams, they can cause a range of side-effects. If you experience any additional symptoms then you should go back to your doctor and they might be able to recommend another variant of medication.
Anti-depressants: If you find that your facial ringworm infection is really making you feel low and causing you mood swings, then your doctor might suggest a course of anti-depressants. The successful of these depend greatly on whether they are compatible with your hormones and can cause many different side-effects. You may have to try several varieties before you find the one that works for you.