Health Advice



US has first case of sexually transmitted ringworm

Hunter Boyce, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Health & Fitness

ATLANTA — A rare fungus recently caused the first-ever U.S. case of sexually transmitted ringworm. Reported in JAMA Dermatology on Wednesday, a new study helmed by doctors from NYU Langone Health revealed the case involved a New York City man in his 30s.

The unnamed man had sex with multiple men in multiple countries during a recent trip, NBC News reported. Returning home after visiting England, Greece and California, he developed an itchy rash on his legs, groin and buttocks. Tests would reveal the red rash was a national first — Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines ringworm as a common fungal infection of hair, skin or nails. Athlete’s foot is perhaps its most notable form. One of the most common causes of the infection, which can be spread through skin-on-skin contact and shared objects, is the fungi Trichophyton.

According to NYU Grossman School of Medicine assistant professor of dermatology and author of the report, the new case is nothing for the public at large to fret over.

“There’s no evidence that this is widespread, or that this is something that people really need to be worried about,” Dr. Avrom Caplan told NBC News. “But if people are having itchy eruptions in areas like the groin, and it’s not getting better, see a doctor.”


Ringworm symptoms often include itchiness accompanied by scaly, ring-shaped red or purple rashes. The New York man suffering from Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII received oral treatments of antifungal medication.

It took 4½ months for the infection to totally clear, and the man’s condition did not improve for the first four weeks of treatment.

Jeremy Gold, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC who was not involved in the study, told NBC News the new case is “notable” because it emphasizes that health care professionals should consider fungi as a possible source of sexually transmitted disease.

“Oftentimes, what happens is that these patients receive multiple courses of antibacterial drugs which are not going to make the fungus better,” he said. “Clinicians should keep this in mind so that patients can get appropriate care.”

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