A reader left a comment on another article asking us to explain the origin of ringworm. Because ringworm is often misunderstood, we thought we would devote an article to it.
Before going any further, we should note that we are not medical doctors, and that we are making no attempt to diagnose or treat any medical condition. If our reader, or anyone else, suspects that they or their pets have ringworm they should consult an appropriate medical professional.
One of the reasons that ringworm is so misunderstood is that it has nothing to do with worms. Ringworm (the technical name is tinea) is a skin infection caused by fungi that live on the dead tissues found on one’s skin, nails, or hair. Tinea has two other common names that are used when the infection appears on either the feet or on the groin: athlete’s foot or jock itch. However, the infection can occur just about anywhere on the body.
Tinea is often called ringworm because it looks a bit like a worm. The infected skin may often show scabs or rash, and may be surrounded by a raised, circular line which can look like a worm under the skin.
The good news is that ringworm can often be treated by using over-the-counter remedies, and more serious infections can be treated by a doctor. While the infection is itchy and annoying, it is typically not dangerous.
One can lower the chances of contracting ringworm by making one’s body inhospitable to the fungi that cause it. This includes bathing regularly, removing damp clothes after exercise, wearing flip-flops when using public showers, and limiting contact with infected persons or animals.
The fact that this is an infection that we can share with our furry friends can make it a little tricky to treat. A pet-owner may become infected and go through treatment successfully only to find themselves re-infected by a pet who has the same condition. If a pet-owner or the pet is being treated for ringworm, then it’s a good idea to consult the relevant medical professional to see if human and pet should be treated at the same time. It can take several weeks of treatment to eliminate the infection completely, so patience is important.