Ringworm is a contagious skin infection caused by fungi on your skin, nails, and hair. It may cause the skin to peel, flake, burn, or crack. Yet, the appearance of ringworm and its causative agent differs under the microscope. It is not only common in humans but also in animals like cats and dogs. As the infection is transferable, you must take extra care.
This article tells you what does ringworm look like under a microscope, a Wood’s lamp, and more.
But before we dive into the details of ringworm identification and diagnosis, understanding the types of ringworm is important.
Table of Contents
Types of Ringworm
The three most common types of ringworms are:
- Trichophyton mentogrophytes (common in humans)
- Microsporum canis (common in cats and dogs) (highly contagious)
- Microsporum gypseum (common in dogs)
Furthermore, ringworm is named according to the area it infects on your body:
groin, or rectum
or jock itch
or Athlete’s foot
What does Ringworm Look Like on Skin?
A red, scaly patch or bump on the skin typically characterizes a ringworm; its ring-like appearance gives it the name. Your doctor might diagnose the infection based on your symptoms or get a sample for testing.
However, remember that all ringworm infections might not have a ring-like boundary.
Sometimes, other diagnostic tests might not detect ringworm, but observing them deeply under a microscope can be helpful. Studying the ringworm under a microscope is the fastest way to diagnose it.
What does Ringworm Look like under a Microscope?
When you observe ringworm under the microscope, you will see a pink stratum corneum that shows the possibility of fungal organisms. Fungal organisms like tinea produce a thick ortho-keratin that may sometimes be sandwiched between para.
The stratum corneum also has fungal hyphae or cross-sections of hyphae in samples. Moreover, the septate hyphae typically run parallel to the skin surface.
You will also see the fungus causing folliculitis in scalp samples with ringworm.
What does Cat Ringworm Look Like under a Microscope?
Ringworms in cats observed under microscopes show spores. They are usually small and hard to see. Moreover, Microsporum canis in cats glow green under the Wood’s light, but it might also not detect ringworm every time.
The best way to determine cat ringworm is fungal culture from the edges of the lesion, placed on a culture plate.
Now that you know what does the fungus of the ringworm look like under a microscope, let’s tell you about another method below.
What does Ringworm Look Like under UV Light?
Besides microscopic examination, the presence of ringworm on the skin and scalp is also determined using a Wood’s lamp. It is widely used to diagnose ringworm in cats and dogs.
The Wood’s lamp uses long-wave ultraviolet light with a 360-365 nanometers wavelength to detect fungus. Trichophyton and M. gypseum do not glow under a Wood’s lamp, making it easier to evaluate Microsporum canis presence.
What does Ringworm Look Like under a Blacklight?
Alternatively, you can use a blacklight to observe ringworms that might show the infection under a blue filter. However, it does not give the best results and may miss subtle lesions.
What does Ringworm Look Like in Culture Testing?
The sample is cultured in dextrose sugar and phenol red at room temperature between 7 and 10 days; a red color shows the presence of tinea.
The Bottom Line
Ringworm appears as a red, scaly patch or bump on the skin with a ring-like shape. The infection shows a dense pink stratum corneum with fungal hyphae that runs parallel to the skin surface. Moreover, it can be observed under a Wood’s lamp or diagnosed through symptoms and fungal culture.