Tinea is a highly-contagious fungal skin infection that affects the feet (athlete’s foot/tinea pedis), groin (jock itch//tinea cruris), scalp and skin underneath the breasts, fingernails and toenails.

The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments and it can be spread by skin-to-skin contact or indirectly via clothing, towels, linens and floors.


The infections are not usually serious but can be uncomfortable and itchy. A red scaly patch can appear and often this area will blister, crack, split, weep, flake and peel. Nails may develop a yellow or white discolouration (onychomycosis) and bald spots can appear on the scalp (tinea capitis). Sometimes the infection can grow in a circular ring pattern – this is sometimes called ringworm (tinea corporis), which is confusing because there is no worm involved.


Keep the infected area dry and clean.Anti-fungal creams and tablets can be purchased from the chemist and supermarket, typically healing the infection within 4 weeks. Make sure you wash your hands after touching infected areas.


Good hygiene can prevent tinea from recurring. Techniques to avoid a tinea infection include; drying skin thoroughly (particularly between toes, groin and under breasts), wearing thongs in public areas, exposing skin to as much air as possible, wearing cotton socks and using antiperspirants to control excessive sweating. Do not share bath mats, towels, shoes etc when you have tinea as it is highly contagious.

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Fast facts:

  • Tinea is a highly contagious fungal skin infection that thrives in warm, moist environments.
  • A red patch can appear and the skin can become uncomfortable and itchy.
  • Anti-fungal creams and tablets typically heal the infection.

References used for this topic

Better Health Channel