Is Ringworm Contagious?

In this guide we are going to share, Is Ringworm Contagious or not. Ringworm, medically called Tinea, is a skin fungal infection (in some cases, it can affect the fingernails and toenails too). Its name is due to the ancient and wrong belief that it was caused by a worm, but it is really caused by different species of fungi, such as Trichophyton and Epidermophyton.

It can affect any person worldwide and of all ages (it is more common in children) and races; however, some conditions can increase de risk of infection (including warm and moist climates). It can affect different body areas, so it will be named according to its location, for example: Tinea capitis (when it affects the scalp), tinea corporis (in the chest, back, or other extensive area of the body), tinea pedis (when the fungus affects the feet), among others. As heat and moisture facilitate the growth of fungus it is most common in skin folds (such as armpits and groin folds) and between the toes.

It is a very common infection because it is highly contagious. It has 3 ways of transmission: from person to person (anthropophilic), from animals to a person (zoophilic), or from the environment to a person (geophilic).

Other examples of how ringworm can be acquired include: touching the personal care items from an infected person (including clothes, combs, hats, brushes, shoes, etc), contact skin to skin (this includes an infected part of the body of any person with a healthy part of its own body, or between the skin of an infected person and a healthy person), playing with infected pets (including  dogs, cats, bunnies, and birds), and even having contact with infected inanimate objects (such as benches, locker rooms, showers, pools).

Although it is possible to get ringworm in many ways, it can be prevented:

  • In first place, it is logical to think that if heat and moisture increases the risk of having ringworm, by avoiding all those conditions that increase the body’s temperature, sweating, and humidity will be more difficult to be infected. For example, athletes that tend to use tight lycra clothing while make exercise, can promote the sweat accumulation and humidity. Likewise, they tend to use public showers and dressing rooms, which is another factor of risk.
  • It is recommended for men to use fresh intimate apparel (such as boxer shorts), and for women avoid to use panty hose.
  • Do not share your clothes and toiletries, including objects as simple as hair accessories.
  • It is recommended to wear sandals or shoes in public places including gyms, locker rooms, showers, and pools. It can help to significantly reduce the possibility of getting ringworm pedis.
  • It is important to treat infected pets under the supervision of a veterinarian and while they are infected you can protect yourself by using gloves or long sleeves when manipulating them, and also washing your hands after that. Those infected pets typically have bald areas.
  • – If in your house someone is infected, you can disinfect his/her clothes with diluted chlorine bleach, strong detergents, and benzalkonium chloride. Likewise, you should avoid contact with surfaces and bedding used by him/her before disinfecting it.

Ringworm can be treated and cured if you follow the treatment. However, it is common to get infected again (especially when fungus has affected the nails). So, prevention is essential!

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