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Psoriasis vs Ringworm: How Is One Different from the Other?

Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, MD · Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 19, 2023

    Psoriasis vs Ringworm: How Is One Different from the Other?

    Many people get rashes for unknown reasons. More often than not, they do not know where they got it or what triggered them. And when they do, they associate it with familiar names such as psoriasis and ringworm. While both are skin conditions that cause itching, they are  different in important ways. How can you tell if it is psoriasis or ringworm? Or could it be something else? This article provides an overview of psoriasis vs ringworm. 

    Psoriasis and ringworm are two of the most common skin conditions; however they are not the same, with different symptoms, causes and  treatments. Spotting the causes and symptoms of each one can help differentiate psoriasis vs ringworm.

    What Is Psoriasis?

    Psoriasis refers to a chronic skin disorder that causes thick pink or red skin patches that are coated in white or silvery scales. 

    Like any other type of rash, it will first show up as small red bumps. As it continues to grow, scales form on top of the bumps, and these tend to look like dandruff. The flakes on the surface can shed off easily once you scratch it, but excessive scratching may lead to bleeding. Lesions, or greater regions of injury, can develop as the rash progresses.

    Psoriasis rashes can appear in any part of the body, but it is usually occurs in the following parts: 

    • Elbows
    • Knees
    • Face
    • Scalp
    • Lower back
    • Palms and feet

    Psoriasis in itself is a general term, but there are other specific types of psoriasis depending on their appearance and severity. Scalp and plaque psoriasis are common kinds of this skin condition. 

    psoriasis vs ringworm

    Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis

    Apart from the typical itchy, red patches, signs and symptoms also include:

    • Flaky patches covered with thick, silvery scales
    • Cracked and dry skin
    • Swollen and stiff joints
    • Soreness
    • Ridged or thickened nails 

    Causes of Psoriasis

    When your immune system overreacts, it causes inflammation. This inflammation causes new skin cells to multiply too quickly, resulting in the silvery scales of psoriasis.

    This skin condition is known to run in families, meaning it can be passed on from one generation to the next. But outbreaks may look and feel different to each person. 

    Some triggers of psoriasis are:

    • Skin injuries
    • Streptococcal or other autoimmune infections and conditions
    • Some prescription medicine (i.e., lithium, and beta-blockers)
    • Cold weather
    • Emotional stress

    Is It Contagious?

    Contrary to what people believe, psoriasis is not contagious. This means that another person would not get infected when they are near a person who has it, or when they touch it.

    What Is Ringworm? What Causes It?

    As the name suggests, ringworm looks like a circular rash. It is caused by a fungus known as tinea. 

    Like psoriasis, there are also different kinds of ringworm depending on what fungi caused it and what part of the body it affects. It includes:

    • Athlete’s foot (Tinea pedis)
    • Ringworm on the scalp (Tinea capitis)
    • Jock itch (Tinea cruris)
    • Ringworm in the beard area (Tinea barbae)

    Signs and Symptoms of Ringworm

    Each type may show different symptoms, but the most common ones are: 

    • Itchy skin
    • Ring-shaped rash
    • Red, scaly, cracked skin
    • Hair loss

    Is It Communicable?

    When it comes to psoriasis vs ringworm, these two skin conditions can be differentiated in terms of communicability. 

    Ringworm infection can be passed on through the following means:

    • Human to human
    • Animal to human
    • Objects to human (infected objects such as clothes, bedsheets, combs, or towels)
    • Soil to human (infected surfaces and environments)

    Psoriasis vs Ringworm: Key Takeaways

    Both psoriasis and ringworm can cause redness and itchiness in many different parts of the body.

    The main difference between psoriasis vs ringworm is the root cause. Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin problem, whereas ringworm is caused by a fungal infection. Another important difference is how it spreads from one person to another. 

    If you are unsure about what causes your skin rashes, make sure you consult a doctor to identify it and receive the right treatment. 

    Learn more about Psoriasis here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mia Dacumos, MD

    Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 19, 2023

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