Ringworm gets its name because of its appearance. No worm is involved.
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection caused by common mold-like parasites that live on the cells in the outer layer of your skin. It can be spread in the following ways:
Human to human transmission:
Ringworm most commonly spreads by direct, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
Animal to human transmission:
You bring home a new pet and the kids start having an itch…you should know whats the culprit. We can contract ringworm infection by touching an animal with ringworm. It may be hidden beneath their fur coat. Ringworm can spread while petting or grooming dogs or cats. Chicken coops are a common site too.
Object to human transmission:
A very common yet under estimated cause is spread by contact with objects or surfaces that an infected person or animal has recently touched or rubbed against, such as clothing, towels, bedding and linens, combs, and brushes.
Soil to human transmission:
In rare cases, ringworm can be spread to humans by contact with infected air, dust and soil. Animal using a certain soil based for prolong time may get the fungus and spread it to humans upon their approaching the infected soil. Damp soil promotes growth of fungus hence a medium. Bird dropping in soil also cause fungal growth.
FUNGUS on the go:
Fungus growing in different places of the body has different names that is why a lot people get confused as well.
Fungus growing in the area of the groin, upper thighs, and buttocks is called Jock itch.
When it grows on the feet, it is called Athlete’s foot.
When fungus grows anywhere else on the body we call it as Ring Worm infection.
The medical name is TINEA CAPITIS when its on the scalp, and TINEA CORPORIS when it involves the rest of the body. However, on the nails it is known as Onychomycosis.
Tinea corporis (the ringworm on the body)starts as a red, scaly patch or bump. Over time, it may look like one or more rings with raised, bumpy, scaly borders (the center is usually clear).
Tinea capitis (the ringworm on the scalp) may start as a small sore that looks like a pimple before becoming patchy, flaky, or scaly. These flakes may look like dandruff. In some cases it may make some hair fall out or break into stubble, leaving a bald spot or may make the scalp swollen, tender, and red.
You’re at higher risk of ringworm of the body if you:
-Live in a warm climate.
-Have close contact with an infected person or animal.
-Share clothing, bedding or towels with someone who has a fungal infection.
-Participate in sports that feature skin-to-skin contact.
-Wear tight or restrictive clothing.
-Have a weak immune system.
Ringworm can often be prevented. To avoid it, kids and teens should take following measures:
-Skin is kept clean and dry. Showering daily and then drying completely. Special attention should be given to drying completely after showering, swimming, and sweaty activities.
-Use clean towels. Avoid sharing clothing, towels, combs, brushes, and hats.
-Sports gear and uniforms should be washed regularly and not to be shared.
-Tight-fitting clothes should be avoided.
-Change clothing every day.
-Handwashing is to be emphasized with soap and water especially after playing with pets.
-Avoid over wrapping infants and toddlers. Excessive sweating and inability of the sweat to dry completely creates a medium for growth of ring worm infection.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams, sprays, or powders usually solve mild infections. More serious infections may need prescription medicine, either topical (put on skin) or oral syrup form.
How Long Does Ringworm Infection stay?
Most mild cases of ringworm usually clear up in 2 to 4 weeks. But treatment might be needed for up to 3 months if the infection is more serious, or affects the nails or the scalp.
Fungal infections need warm, moist, unclean skin to grow. So you should encourage children to adopt good hygiene practices to prevent fungal infections. Have your pets examined/treated if they are suspected to have fungal infections. Discourage your child from sharing personal items like combs or hats with friends.