Many people are under the assumption that ringworm is a worm under the skin. Let me assure you, ringworm is NOT a worm. Ringworm is a contagious fungus spread by animals and humans. This isn’t to be confused with jock itch, athlete’s foot, ringworm of the scalp or beard, or toenail fungal infections – these are all forms of ringworm that appear differently on the body than the actual ringworm of the skin. All forms of ringworm fall under tinea corporis – the formal name of the fungus.
Humans can contract ringworm through:
- Direct skin-to-skin contact of an infected human
- Through towels, clothing, linens, bedding, brushes, combs – any object or surface that has been recently touched by an infected person.
- Petting and touching animals (dogs and cats) that have it – including goats, pigs, ferrets, horses and rabbits
- And occasionally, one can get it from contaminated soil – this is very rare though
What does ringworm look like?
Ringworm takes the shape of a ring, usually brighter red at the outer edge, with healthier looking skin in the middle and it’s usually itchy. It can also appear scaly. The ringworm I’ve seen on humans and cats take the same form. There are various degrees of ringworm – go to Google Images and you’ll see the many different degrees – some are not so pretty to look at.
Regardless of the form of ringworm one has, they are all treated with an either an anti-fungal cream or an anti-fungal oral medication. There are many different forms of anti-fungal products on the shelves these days that can be purchased over the counter. I’ve had very good luck with products like Lotrimin or Clotrimazole Anti-Fungal Cream for ringworm of the skin. I’ve treated my son for ringworm of the skin a few times over the years. Given the location of where it appeared on his body, he more than likely contracted it by someone who had it who had worked with him (he relies on others for all his care due to his disabilities). Most people who have jock itch, athlete’s feet, or crotch rot do well with an anti-fungal cream, powder, or spray. One should consult a doctor if ringworm is on the scalp. Usually, this form is treated best with an anti-fungal oral medication.
If you’re unsure of what you’re seeing – you should see a doctor before treating the infected area. One could easily confuse ringworm with Lyme disease if you’ve never seen either of them in action. I say this as when I was diagnosed with second stage Lyme disease, I never thought I had it but it kind of reminded me of ringworm. However, since I thought I had gotten bite by a flea, as I saw the bug bite me, I knew it wasn’t ringworm. I just kept scratching the area and thought the area had become infected. That was until the area where I was bit spread rather fast into a fairly large ring with a spot in the middle (where the actual bite was). When my son had ringworm the area was very similar but much smaller in scale when I noticed it. I knew it was ringworm for certain though, as I had seen ringworm of the skin, on others in the past. It also was not scaly and neither was the ring from the Lyme disease that I had. It is important to note that Lyme disease is treated completely differently than any type of ringworm.
If you’re worried about an animal infecting you – I wouldn’t be too worried. I’ve owned more than my share of cats, ferrets, and dogs in my life and only one cat ever had ringworm. That particular kitty had it when I adopted it from the SPCA and I didn’t contract it from her. However – if you have animals and you’ve contracted ringworm, I would certainly check the animal(s) out from head-to-toe to make sure they aren’t the reason you’re infected. You’ll also want to get the animal treated so you or no one else will get the fungus.