Symptoms of a tinea fungal infection 

The symptoms of a tinea fungal infection depend on where the infection is.

Ringworm (on the skin)

The symptoms of ringworm include:

  • a ring-like red or silvery rash on your skin  your skin will look red and irritated around the ring, but healthy inside
  • scaly, itchy and inflamed skin

In more severe cases:

  • the rings may multiply, grow in size and merge together
  • the rings may feel slightly raised and the skin underneath may be itchy
  • blisters and pus-filled sores may form around the rings

The ring spreads outwards as it progresses. You can have one patch or several patches of ringworm, and in more serious cases, your skin may become raised and blistered.

Face and neck ringworm

Ringworm on the face and neck may not appear ring-shaped, but may be itchy and swollen, and it can become dry and crusted. If you have a beard, you may notice patches of hair breaking away.

Hand ringworm

Ringworm on the hand often causes the skin to become thicker on the palm and in between the fingers. It may affect one hand or both and normally only appears on one side.

Fungal scalp infection (tinea capitis)

The symptoms of a fungal scalp infection include:

  • small patches of scaly skin on the scalp, which may be sore
  • patchy hair loss
  • an itchy scalp

In more severe cases:

  • small, pus-filled sores on the scalp
  • crusting on the scalp
  • bald patches (if your hair is affected)

In very severe cases, a large inflamed sore called a kerion may form on your scalp. This can ooze pus, and you may also have a fever and swollen lymph glands.

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)

The main symptom of athlete’s foot is an itchy, dry, red and flaky rash, usually in the spaces between your toes. In more severe cases, you may have:

  • cracked skin in the affected area
  • blisters, which may ooze or crust
  • swelling of the skin
  • a burning or stinging sensation in your skin
  • scaling patterns around your sole, between your toes and on the side of your foot

Read more about athlete's foot.

Jock itch (tinea cruris)

The symptoms of jock itch include:

  • red-brown sores, which may have blisters or pus-filled sores around the edge
  • itchiness and redness around your groin area, such as your inner thighs and bottom (the genitals are not usually affected)
  • scaly, flaky skin on your inner thighs

Exercising, walking and wearing tight clothing or underwear can make the symptoms of a groin infection worse.

Fungal nail infection (onychomycosis)

The symptoms of a fungal nail infection include:

  • a whitish thickening of the nail
  • discolouration (the nail can turn white, black, yellow or green)
  • the nail can become brittle and start to fall off
  • the skin around the nail may be sore and irritated

Read more about fungal nail infection.  

When to seek medical advice

Make an appointment to see your GP if you:

  • or your child develop the symptoms of a fungal scalp infection
  • have ringworm that has not improved after two weeks of treatment with antifungal cream
  • have another medical condition, or you’re having medical treatment that is known to weaken your immune system, such as chemotherapy or steroid tablets

Read more about how fungal infections are diagnosed.

Ringworm spreads outwards as it progresses, causing a patch or several patches of scaly skin to develop  

Page last reviewed: 05/03/2015

Next review due: 05/03/2017