February 21, 2010
February 21 - Tricophyton rubrum
Tricophyton rubrum is a dermatophyte - a fungus that is an obligate parasite of the skin or other keratinized tissues like nails. This species is the most frequent culprit behind the most common fungal infections of humans - ringworm, athlete's foot and jock itch. The fungi typically only colonize the outermost layers of skin and do not invade the true living tissues beneath. They make us itch when our immune systems respond to the metabolic waste they exude out. Although ringworm isn't usually a severe health threat to an infected person, and can be treated with aggressive topical medications, it's often horrifically hard it can be to get rid of in one's house. The fungi can remain in clothes, on sheets, even on furniture and other parts of the environment for over a year and transmission can occur between humans and pets. It's very common in showers and locker rooms so wearing flip-flops is always a good idea in these public places. The name "ringworm" comes from the tendency of the fungus to form a ring in the skin, though they do not always do this.