Tinea skin infections overview

Tinea is a condition caused by a fungi that infect the skin. Tinea infections are most common on the feet, particularly between the toes, and around the upper thigh and groin.

Tinea is a condition caused by fungi that infect the skin. It can affect any part of the body and different types of tinea (fungal) infections are named for where they occur on the body. The most common names are:

  • Athlete’s foot occurs on the foot or between the toes.
  • Nail infection involves one or more toenails or fingernails.
  • Jock itch occurs in the groin or upper thigh area.
  • Scalp ringworm occurs on the head.
  • Ringworm occurs on other parts of the body.

What causes tinea infections?

Tinea can be easily picked up through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal, or through indirect contact with an object or surface that an infected person or animal has touched. Bathroom floors, bathmats, towels, showers and communal bathing, swimming and changing room areas are common sources of infection.

Once in contact with your skin, the fungi spread to the surface layers of dead cells – they don't generally invade living skin cells. It can take days or up to 2 weeks before you develop the infection after being in contact with the fungus.

What are the symptoms and treatment of tinea infection?

Tinea symptoms can differ depending on the location on the body and may include:

  • redness and/or itching
  • burning or stinging
  • a rash that may form blisters or pustules
  • raw, inflamed or scaly skin
  • in more severe cases, weeping or oozing areas of skin.

Click on the links below to learn more about the symptoms and treatment of different tinea infections.

Can tinea infections be prevented?

Some types of tinea infection can be prevented if you:

  • Shower after you get dirty or sweaty, or after using a locker room.
  • Wear shower shoes in public showers, gyms, locker rooms, and pools. Don’t go barefoot.
  • Don’t share towels, combs, brushes, clothing, or shoes.
  • Keep your skin and feet dry.
  • Wear clean, loose-fitting underwear.
  • Make sure your pet doesn't have ringworm. People can get ringworm from animals. If you think your pet has ringworm, take the pet to a veterinarian for treatment. The vet can also advise you on how to disinfect your home.

Learn more

Tinea DermNet NZ, 2003
Ringworm and tinea infection a patient's guide  Family Doctor NZ, 2015

References

Tinea DermNet NZ, 2003

Information for healthcare providers

Collecting specimens for the investigation of fungal infections  Best Practice Journal, BPAC NZ, 2011

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team. Reviewed By: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist Last reviewed: 28 Sep 2022