Ringworm Disease – The Facts

Ringworms” refers to fungal infections that are on the surface of the skin. Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus. Ringworm can affect skin on your body (tinea corporis), scalp (tinea capitis), groin area (tinea cruris, also called jock itch), or feet. Ringworm is a skin and scalp disease caused by several different kinds of fungi. Ringworm on the scalp usually makes a bald patch of scaly skin. People with ringworm on other parts of their skin can have a ring-shaped rash that is reddish and may be itchy. The rash can be dry and scaly or wet and crusty. Ringworm is easily transmitted to humans. About 50% of people living with a ringworm-infected cat will develop the infection. Children and young animals are most susceptible to infections. Ringworm in animals usually appears as a rapidly growing circular patch of broken hair. A ‘cigarette ash’ dandruff appears on the lesion and sometimes the patch has an inflamed margin. The infection is more common in young animals. In kittens, the patches usually occur on the head and feet. Ringworm of the body appears as flat, spreading ring-shaped areas. The edge is reddish and may be either dry and scaly or moist and crusted.

The term ringworm is a misnomer. It has nothing to do with worms. It is a fungus, or more correctly, one of several fungi that can affect animals and humans. Today, many children, adults and pet owners get ringworm through direct or indirect contact with the infected hairs or skin of pets. Ringworm of the scalp usually begins as a small pimple which becomes larger in size and leaves scaly patches of temporary baldness. Infected hairs become brittle and break off easily. Occasionally, yellowish cuplike crusty areas are seen. With ringworm of the nails, the affected nails become thicker, discolored and brittle, or they become chalky and disintegrate. Ringworm of the body appears as flat, spreading ring-shaped areas. Heat and moisture help fungi grow and thrive, which makes them more common in skin folds such as those in the groin or between the toes. This also accounts for their reputation as being caught from showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools. Topical shampoo therapy is used in almost every case, especially in longer haired pets. It is common to clip some or all of the hair in some pets to make it more effective. Specific anti fungal cremes are also used when a pet is infected in an area that already has sparse hair growth, or there are small, discrete lesions.

Ringworm Treatment Tips

1. Keep your skin clean and dry.

2. Apply over-the-counter antifungal or drying powders, lotions, or creams.

3. Wash sheets and nightclothes every day while infected.

4. Topical shampoo therapy is used in almost every case, especially in longer haired pets.

5. Do not share clothing, towels, hairbrushes, combs, headgear, or other personal care items.

6. Wear sandals or shoes at gyms, lockers, and pools.

7. Avoid touching pets with bald spots.

8. Antifungal creams are readily available and may be efficient for small lesions.