What is tinea manuum?
Tinea manuum is a fungal infection of the hands. Tinea is also called ringworm, and manuum refers to it being on the hands. When it is found on the feet, it is referred to as tinea pedis (athlete’s foot).
Tinea causes a red, scaly rash that usually has a border that is slightly raised. This border usually creates a ring, which is why it is sometimes referred to as ringworm.
Most parts of the body can get tinea or ringworm. Those parts include:
Tinea is contagious. Tinea manuum is a slightly less common form of tinea, and you often contract it by touching your feet or groin if they are infected. In fact, tinea will normally also be on your feet if it is on a hand. You can also get tinea manuum from others who have the infection. Touching objects contaminated with fungus can also result in infection. Tinea in general is fairly common, and many people will get some form of it in their lifetime.
Causes and risk factors
Anyone can get tinea manuum, but there are some who are more likely to get it than others. People who are more likely to contract tinea manuum include:
- those who handle or are around animals
- those who play sports that involve close contact with skin
- those who use public showers in places like gyms or elsewhere
There are a variety of causes for tinea. Since tinea is contagious, you can get it by making contact with the skin of someone with the fungus, including yourself. You can also get it when your skin comes into contact with a surface that has been contaminated by someone with tinea.
You can contract tinea from some animals, including dogs, cats, cows, and hedgehogs. You can even get tinea from contaminated soil. Wearing tight-fitting clothing or shoes, especially when you sweat, can make you more susceptible to tinea.
There are several common symptoms of tinea manuum.
- The infected area on your hand will normally start small and gradually become larger over time.
- The infection will generally start on the palm of the hand and may or may not spread to your fingers and the back of your hand.
- The area infected with tinea will be itchy, red, and have a scaly appearance.
- The infected area may also peel and flake.
Tinea manuum tends to occur on just one hand and both feet. Depending on the fungus causing the tinea, the area may also blister and contain a clear liquid.
Tinea manuum vs. hand dermatitis
While they may seem similar, there are differences between tinea manuum and hand dermatitis. Tinea manuum typically has a raised border with a clear area in the middle, while dermatitis does not. Most of the time, only one hand is affected by tinea manuum. Hand dermatitis is also typically much itchier than fungus. Your doctor is the best person to determine what you have if it doesn’t go away with over-the-counter (OTC) fungal treatments.
Treating tinea manuum
You can usually treat your tinea at home using a number of OTC topical medications. These include miconazole (Lotrimin), terbinafine (Lamisil), and others. However, if the infection does not clear up after a month, your doctor may recommend a prescription topical medication. In severe cases, or special circumstances, your doctor may prescribe an oral medication to resolve the problem.
How is it diagnosed?
A medical professional can diagnose tinea (including manuum) using several different methods. One is by using a Wood’s lamp. When this lamp shines on certain fungi, the fungus shines a different color or brightness than the rest of your skin.
Your doctor may examine scales from the infected area under a microscope to diagnose tinea. Another way to diagnose the condition is to take a culture of a sample of the infected skin. A culture is usually only done if your doctor thinks your tinea will require oral medication, though.
Outlook and prevention
Tinea manuum is curable with proper treatment. Some cases may become more severe and need prescription medication, but most tinea will clear up in about a month or less.
To prevent tinea manuum, keep your hands clean and dry, especially if you wear gloves regularly. Avoid contact with those who have an active case of tinea on any part of their body. If you have tinea on other parts of your own body, avoid scratching these areas with your hands. When you treat other infected areas, it is good to wear disposable gloves to avoid spreading tinea to your hands.
Be sure to see your doctor if your tinea manuum does not go away after a month of using OTC topical treatments. You should also see your doctor if you get tinea and you have diabetes or an illness or condition that affects your immune system.