Ringworm, or tinea corporis, is a fungal infection of the skin. The symptoms of ringworm can occur all over the body, including the legs. There are a number of other skin conditions that cause similar symptoms to ringworm. These include psoriasis, granuloma annulare, eczema and vitiligo. You should consult a doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of the following symptoms.
Ringworm can affect the skin on the legs. Ringworm occurs when fungi called dermatophytes infect the skin, causing itching, as well as a red, ring-shaped skin rash. The rash will usually appear scaly. Ringworm can be spread by contact with an infected person or infected clothing and surfaces that many people walk on barefoot, such as swimming pool decks. Ringworm is treated by application of antifungal creams containing miconazole and clotrimazole, which are usually available over the counter.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes the immune system to create too many immature skin cells and also causes areas of the skin to inflame on the elbows, knees and hands. The inflamed areas are covered with scaly skin, making psoriasis appear somewhat like ringworm. Most cases of psoriasis are treated using creams that can be purchased in most pharmacies that contain such ingredients as topical corticosteroids and immunomodulators.
Granuloma annulare is a skin disease that causes rashes consisting of red bumps that form in rings and circles. This makes it easily mistaken for ringworm. However, these circular rashes are the only symptom that granuloma annulare causes, whereas ringworm rashes can also itch. Granuloma annulare is usually treated with very strong topical steroid creams. In extreme cases, a doctor may inject steroids directly into the rash to reduce its appearance.
Eczema is a chronic skin disorder that causes scaly rashes on the skin, including the legs. This makes it easily mistaken for ringworm. However, eczema also causes the skin to blister, peel and weep (or exude fluids). Eczema is usually treated with antihistamines, as the condition is caused by a hypersensitive reaction much like an allergic reaction.
Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes white patches in the skin, particularly around the elbows and knees. In its beginning stages, vitiligo may appear similar to ringworm. The skin bordering the white patches is a darker pigment than the rest of the skin. Vitiligo is usually treated using minor ultraviolet light therapy, oral medications including trimethylpsoralen and medicated creams containing such ingredients as pimecrolimus or tacrolimus.