You reach out to scratch your leg for the nth time today–it has been itching like crazy recently. As you look down at that itchy patch of skin, you notice a strange lesion the shape of a ring. The center of this round rash appears normal, though. What do you know, you’ve just been infected by ringworm–a skin fungus.
Why does it exist?
Contrary to earlier beliefs, ringworm is not caused by a worm (hence, the name people gave it a long time ago). There are actually two possible culprits in this scenario: microsporum and trichophyton. These two fungi are not dangerous and exist commonly in the environment.
Why did I/my friend/my kid catch it?
Unfortunately, ringworm infections are very itchy AND contagious, so you probably got it from someone else who scratched their lesions and had skin contact with you. Ringworms can occur on the skins of our pets, too, so you might have gotten it from being too cuddly with your furry friends.
How do I make sure it’s ringworm?
Ringworm infections are easy to spot: they are round, red, and bordered by bumps, scales, or blisters. Its center is clear, however, and it is sharply contrasted by the red border of skin around it. There’s usually no trouble identifying these spots may appear anywhere on the body from the face to the limbs.
How can ringworm be treated?
Like any other skin fungal infections, ringworms can disappear over continuous use of anti-fungal creams. One very common cream used to cure ringworms is clotrimazole to be used twice a day. This cream, as well as many others, can be bought over-the-counter. However, if you want maximum results in the least amount of time, ask your doctor for a powerful prescription medication that would target the fungi living in your ringworm infections quickly. You should also consult your doctor if, after two weeks of using over-the-counter anti-fungal creams, there are no significant improvements in the condition of the ringworms infections.
Do ringworm patients need to stay home until the rashes disappear?
No. However, proper hygiene should be observed in order to avoid transmission of the fungus via direct contact. For one thing, the ringworms should not be scratched as this usually causes the spread of the fungi. It is better to make sure that the infected areas are always covered by a layer of anti-fungal cream or a layer of clothing before heading out for school or work.
How can ringworm be prevented?
As in any other fungal infections (and almost every other bacterial infection), make sure to wash your hands diligently. Being extra cautious about where the hand you just shook has been (if the person has been scratching areas of his body more frequently than normal) also helps a lot in your own efforts to adjust your hygiene measures. Also, make sure that you bring your pets to the vet regularly so as to diagnose any skin rashes and fungi they might have contracted and to prevent them from spreading the infection to the rest of the household.