Psoriasis vs. Ringworm : what are they and what are the differences?

Psoriasis vs. Ringworm

Two common skin conditions are very different—duration and cause of each:

  • Psoriasis
  • Ringworm

There are many kinds of skin conditions that can be problematic.  Some are because of other health conditions, and can be chronic, while others can be fleeting or just over a shorter period of time due to issues like fungus or from a viral or bacterial infection that resolves. Two common skin issues are psoriasis and ringworm.  However, both of these issues could look similar but they each are completely different.

Psoriasis is usually a long-term or even life time condition—depending on the root cause and how that is treated.  It is usually caused by an immune system problem, such as HIV, a viral infection, or an autoimmune condition like celiac disease or other GI ailment that is a chronic condition that caused plagues to appear on the body.

Ring worm, usually a shiny, red, itchy and circular skin issue might look like a plaque developing but isn’t psoriasis and might last a few days to a week, if treated properly.  Usually psoriasis is thick and scale-like, also flakes—the thickness of the condition is from the multiple layers of skin growth causing the patches to be thicker—the condition makes your skin cells multiply.  And this is done nearly 10 times faster than typical skin cells.

What the areas of psoriasis will look like:

  • Bumpy red patches
  • White scales
  • Can develop/grow anywhere

Mostly the psoriasis patches are on:

  • Scalp
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Lower back

What are the types of psoriasis?

There are different types of psoriasis are plaque psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, erythrodemric psoriasis, sebopsoriasis, and nail psoriasis.

  • Plaque psoriasis, common plaque psoriasis
  • Inverse psoriasis, in skin folds without scales
  • Guttate psoriasis, appears after strep infections, small red spots, sometimes have scales
  • Pustular psoriasis, when the plaques have small pus bumps on them
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis, large area, discoloration and skin shedding
  • Sebopsoriasis psoriasis, bumps and plaques that are greasy, yellow and on the face—kind of a mix of dermatitis and psoriasis
  • Nail psoriasis, causes skin discoloration, pitting, changes to your fingernails and toenails

Where can psoriasis appear on the body?

Everyone is different which means psoriasis patches can show up just about anywhere on your skin.  It can show up like scaly rashes, and be anywhere on your skin.  The condition can be common to be in a variety of areas on the skin.

Psoriasis plaques or patches can develop on:

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Face
  • Mouth
  • Scalp
  • Genitals
  • Fingers
  • Toe Nails
  • Palms
  • Feet
  • Back

Symptoms of psoriasis

There can be a variety of symptoms with psoriasis including, skin that itches, cracked areas of skin, pain, cracked or crumbling nails and sometimes joint pain. Dealing with psoriasis plaques can be problematic.  You don’t want to scratch, rub or make the area worse.  This can cause infection in the plague areas and may cause the condition to worsen.

Always get to your doctor or make an appointment with a dermatologist for a cream to put on the area or have the doctor determine a good treatment plan to improve the condition.  Also, there are many types of anti-inflammatory that can help the condition such as turmeric, curcumin, MSM, quercetin, B vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and others.

Is the condition contagious?

Psoriasis isn’t contagious.  The condition is solely developed from typically an immune system issue.  So, understanding what conditions you might have causing this is key.  Gastrointestinal conditions are common causes of psoriasis such as leaky gut, a severe unbalanced gut flora, inflammatory conditions, and autoimmune issues and so on.  Your doctor can give you a list, do more tests and determine other than a dermatologist, what kind of doctor you might need to determine a root cause of the psoriasis.

Psoriasis is one of many skin conditions that is not contagious, however, there are many irritating ones that are—like ringworm. These conditions both cause itching, chronic irritation but can be soothed in different ways from various internal and external treatments.  The main difference is with ringworm it is caused by fungus, not an immune system issue and isn’t lifelong or chronic, like psoriasis is.

What is Ringworm?

Ringworm or Tinea Corporis is a skin condition that starts from a fungal infection.  It appears as a shiny, rash-like area and usually has circles around it and other spotting in it.  There is no worm that causes this skin condition.  It was merely named this because of the ringed area.

The condition isn’t life-long, like psoriasis usually is.  People can get it from animals, other people—usually sharing towels with an infected person or sitting in a wet bathing suit can also cause the skin condition.

  • From a fungal infection
  • Related to athletes foot and jock itch, and ringworm of scalp
  • Usually circular
  • Shiny
  • Red
  • Clear in center of rash-like area

Treatment and signs and symptoms of Ringworm

You can treat ringworm with topical and oral medications—usually an OTC antifungal works but it does depend how serious it is.  You can also use caprylic acid gel pills; these help combat candida and fungus in the body and can be used orally or topically.

Treatment of ringworm needs to be immediate because the condition can easily spread on your body or to another person.  It is important to change if you are constantly sweaty.  Always get out of bath suits after you get home from the pool, ocean or lake.  If a dog or other pet has it, treat it immediately also—you can still contract it from a pet.

Potential treatments for ringworm:

How to treat ring worm

  • Antifungal medications, orally, fluconazole or diflucan
  • Antifungal topical medications, creams or ointments
  • Athletes foot cream (any anti-fungal cream OTC should work; but if more severe, talk to a doctor)
  • Caprylic acid topical or orally
  • Coconut oil, topically or orally

Signs and symptoms of ringworm

  • Scale-like or ring area
  • Usually on trunk area, buttocks, arms, legs
  • Very itchy
  • Shiny and clear area with some color
  • Can be bumpy
  • Can be reddish, brown or even purple in hue
  • Usually a flat area
  • Can be multiple rings
  • Or one large ring

Importance of diagnosis and treatment of both skin conditions

With any disease or condition these issues are obviously both important.  The problem is some people have no idea they have ringworm and think they are just itching.  It is highly contagious, and even though it can be treated it can spread from person to person and you can get it from playing in dirt or if your animals have it.  Treatment is imperative, right away.

With psoriasis, you might need a multipronged approach—not just an OTC fungal cream like for the treatment of ringworm.  Many times, psoriasis has been going on a while and people don’t do anything other than PTC creams or salves for it and don’t get to the root of the problem.  While psoriasis might be scaly, flaky and bothersome, eventually you may need doctor help and prescription creams or other topical and sometimes medications. 

Usually, it can be controlled with lots of vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and taking probiotics and eating healthier—foods that contains more quercetin, vitamin C, iron and zinc.  Immune system issues usually need to be addressed as well as helping the patchy areas heal more from creams also, while attacking the root problem—the immune system problems.  You should talk to your doctor, and possibly see an alternative MD and gastrointestinal specialist, in addition to understanding the skin issues better with advice from a dermatologist.