Contact Dermatitis vs Ringworm: Know the Differences

Contact Dermatitis vs Ringworm

Difference between Contact Dermatitis vs Ringworm: Contact Dermatitis and Ringworm are different conditions affecting the skin. Each has different causes and treatments. To begin with contact dermatitis, Contact Dermatitis happens when the skin encounters any irritant therefore leading to irritation,, Ringworms are caused by fungi which result in a circular rash with raised edges and clear centers. Proper diagnosis by a medical professional is very important.

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Difference between Contact Dermatitis and Ringworm

Contact Dermatitis starts from exposure to irritants or allergens, causing redness and itching, while Ringworm, a fungal infection, shows as a circular rash with raised edges. The table below provides the differences between Contact Dermatitis and Ringworm.


Contact Dermatitis



Exposure to irritants or allergens

Fungal infection


Redness, itching, swelling, blistering

Circular rash, raised edges, clear centre





Not contagious

Contagious, spreads through direct contact


Topical corticosteroids, avoiding triggers

Antifungal medications, topical or oral


Avoidance of irritants/allergens

Good hygiene, avoiding infected persons

Common Locations

Areas of skin in contact with irritants

Scalp, body, groin, feet, nails

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What is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact Dermatitis can be defined as an inflammation that occurs when the skin comes into contact with an allergen which causes redness, itching and swelling on the affected area.

Causes of Contact Dermatitis

  • Irritants: Some substances directly damage the skin’s outer layer, leading to inflammation. These include chemicals in household products, extreme temperature or moisture, certain metals and cosmetic products.
  • Allergens: Substances that trigger an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals include metals. Latex. Fragrances and certain medications.
  • Industrial Exposure: People who work in certain industries or environments are exposed to chemicals, cement and other irritants.
  • Pre-existing Skin Conditions: Individuals with pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis may be more susceptible to developing Contact Dermatitis due to a compromised skin barrier.
  • Genetic Factors: Individuals with a history of Contact Dermatitis may have a genetic predisposition to developing Contact Dermatitis, making them more sensitive to certain irritants or allergens.

Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

  • Redness: The affected area of the skin may appear red or flushed.
  • Itching: Itching is a common symptom of Contact Dermatitis and can range from mild to severe.
  • Swelling: Swelling or inflammation may occur in the affected area, leading to puffiness or a raised appearance.
  • Blisters: Small fluid-filled blisters may develop, especially in cases of allergic Contact Dermatitis.
  • Dryness: The skin may become dry, cracked, or scaly, particularly in chronic cases or with repeated irritant exposure.

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What is Ringworm?

Ringworm is a common infection of the skin, nails or hair caused by fungi. Worms do not cause it though the name suggests so. It appears as a circular-shaped rash with a clear center and raised edges. It can affect one's nails, body groin, scalp, and feet.

Causes of Ringworm

  • Direct Contact: Ringworm is very contagious and spreads through direct skin contact with an infected person or animal. It can also spread through coming in contact with a contaminated surface.
  • Animal Contact: Pets including cats and dogs may carry ringworm-causing fungi which leads to infection.
  • Poor Hugiene: Improper hygiene conditions like sharing personal items including towels, brushes or any other personal items can spread ringworm.
  • Humid and Warm Environment: Places including locker rooms, swimming pools or any other place with moisture is a potential breeding grounds for fungi-causing ringworm.

Symptoms of Ringworm

  • Red and Itchy Rash: Ringworm typically presents as a red and circular rash on the skin. The edges may appear to be raised and scaly whereas the centres are more clear.
  • Stinging or Burning Sensation: The area affected may feel uncomfortable and may cause burning, itching or stinging.
  • Blistering: Though unusual, ringworm may lead to small. Fluid-filled blisters that develop within the area affected.
  • Crackling or Scaling of the Skin: The skin around ringworm may become dry, cracked or scaly.

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Similarities between Contact Dermatitis and Ringworm

  • Skin Rash: Both Contact Dermatitis and Ringworm appear to be a red, inflamed rash on the skin. The rash may be itchy, painful, or uncomfortable in both conditions.
  • Itching: Itching is a common symptom of both Contact Dermatitis and Ringworm. The degree of itching may vary and affect individuals differently.
  • Redness and Inflammation: The affected skin in both Contact Dermatitis and Ringworm may appear red and inflamed due to the body's immune response to the irritants or fungal infection.

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What is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact Dermatitis is a pores and skin reaction while your pores and skin come into direct touch with a substance that irritates it or triggers an allergy.

What Causes Contact Dermatitis?

Contact Dermatitis can be because of exposure to irritants like soaps, detergents, chemicals, or allergens like certain metals.

What are the Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis?

Symptoms may include redness, itching, swelling, rash, blistering, or dry, cracked pores and skin. The reaction can range in severity depending on the irritant or allergen and the person's sensitivity

What is a ringworm?

Ringworm is a commonplace fungal contamination that impacts the pores and skin, scalp, or nails, inflicting red, itchy, and round rashes resembling a Trojan horse's shape.

What are the causes of ringworm?

Causes of ringworm include infection due to dermatophyte fungi, which can be transmitted through direct contact with infected individuals or animals, or contaminated objects or surfaces.