Health Risks: Recognizing And Treating Ringworm

There's one distinctive way to recognize a ringworm: their round shape. If you or your child has a red, itchy, perfectly round sore, it's time to see a doctor.

Ringworm is a fungal infection which can affect many different parts of the body, or even your pet. Ringworm travels by direct touch or indirect touch with an infected person or animal. You can catch it by simply picking up your pet, or sitting on a sofa where an infected person sat previously. There are several different types of ringworm in the United States and across the globe. The ringworm fungus which attacks the scalp lives in people and animals, whereas the ringworm fungus which attacks the body lives in people, animals and soil. The type of ringworm which attacks the feet or nails is only seen in people.

Ringworm of the scalp begins as a small blemish, like a pimple, then gets larger, leaving no hair in that particular spot. It's often seen in school-aged children and outbreaks are frequent in public schools. Ringworm on the body usually begins as a red patch, which gets larger and becomes circular in appearance. This could appear as one circle, or many, even one circle which overlaps another. The ringworm area is usually very itchy and extremely contagious, appearing 10 days to 2 weeks from time of contact. Body ringworm is common in young school children, as well as older ones. It's not unheard of for an entire sports team to suffer from the ailment. Absolute diagnosis should be done by an experienced health care official. If left untreated, ringworm will not clear up on its own. Old fashioned cures, like clear nail polish are not effective, so have your doctor write a prescription.



Although there is no real way to prevent ringworm, some steps can be taken to lessen the spread of the fungus. Teach kids not to share towels, combs, hats or hair accessories, and keep common areas in the home and schools disinfected. Areas like bathrooms, changing rooms or gyms should be disinfected regularly. Disinfectant sprays are good, along with regular mopping with disinfecting cleaner. After being diagnosed, apply the prescription cream to the infected areas of the body the specified number of times stated on the prescription. Even when the symptoms have disappeared and you no longer see the red rash, continue to use the medication for the amount of time implied. If you have ringworm, limit your contact with other people and keep the infected area of the skin covered to lessen exposure to others. If ringworm is on your feet, do not walk around without shoes or slippers, and disinfect showers and tubs after use. After being diagnosed with ringworm, launder bedding, clothing and even pet beds.

If your pet has ringworm, treat with a prescribed medication and keep the pet out of beds and off of furniture. Set up a place for the pet temporarily, like an area of the garage, to keep the ringworm from spreading until treatment is complete. Do not pet the animal unless you're wearing gloves, and launder the gloves in hot, soapy water, immediately after handling the animal. As with anything contagious, take steps to prevent the spread by continuing with the medication, keeping contact with others to a minimum, and treating personal belongings as needed.

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