Ringworm is an infection of the nails, hair or skin that is caused by fungi known as dermatophytes. Despite the name, it is not actually caused by a worm. The infection can be spread from person to person, from animals to people or through infected clothes, towels or bedding. It gets the name "ringworm" because the skin rash is often in the shape of a ring. Not all dermatophyte infections are called ringworm. For example, jock itch and athlete’s foot are also caused by dermatophytes.
When ringworm develops on the skin, the most common symptom is a characteristic red, ring-shaped rash. It is frequently itchy, and it can also form scales or cracks. It can lead to hair loss if the ringworm is on the scalp or beard. Typically, the rash and other symptoms begin anywhere from four to 14 days after someone is exposed to the fungus.
Prevention and Treatment of Ringworm
Practicing good hygiene and avoiding people who have ringworm are the best ways to prevent spreading it. This includes regular showering, hand washing, using clean towels and bedding and wearing clean clothes. Ringworm and other dermatophyte infections can be spread in athletic settings like locker rooms and gyms, so it’s important to wear shower shoes and not share towels or clothing in those places. Regular visits to the veterinarian can help prevent a ringworm infection in a pet that can potentially spread to humans.
If a ringworm infection develops, it can be easily treated with antifungal medication. This could be either an oral or topical medication, depending on the location and nature of the infection. The length of the treatment also varies, depending on the severity of the case.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention