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In spite of its name, ringworm is not a worm or parasite at all, but a fungus. Depending on what part of the body it comes out on, it is also known as tinea. This fungus is called dermatophytes, and it lives and spreads onto the outer layer of skin. They cause a ring or circle-like effect of dry, flaky skin. Sometimes it does not appear in rings at all, but just as flaky, red, itchy skin, with rough patches. After contact, ringworm can take a few days to a week to appear. Ringworm can be treated with antifungal medication. Medication is either topical, such as creams and lotions, or oral in the form of a pill taken by mouth.

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Direct Contact

Like with most contagious conditions and diseases, direct contact with the fungus on another person will ensure you are also infected. Ringworm spreads quickly from person to person. This scope can be difficult because many times you are not often aware of the condition of the other person's skin, especially if it such a simple thing like holding hands or hugging. It pays to be cautious and if you see early signs of ringworm on your skin, determine who exactly you may have caught it from, and seek medical advice to find it early and stop the spreading.

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Sharing Contaminated Objects

Apart from direct skin-to-skin contact, the other most common way to contract ringworm is by using a fungus-contaminated object that belongs to someone else. Most likely in the act of sharing towels or clothing, bed linen, hats, combs, and brushes. The ringworm fungus can live for a very long time and can sit on an inanimate object, such as a brush, a comb or fabric, for some time before it is passed on and starts to feed off the skin of the new host. It is highly contagious and needs to be treated at not only the source but also everyone else they come into contact with.

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From Other Body Parts

Fungus on foot or in between the toes is called tinea, or, more commonly, "athlete's foot." This is when the skin between the toes is flaky and red. It can be itchy and uncomfortable, especially when wearing shoes that don't allow any air to circulate around the foot. Athlete's foot is often spread to the hands, and then it takes on the form of ringworm. If the hands spread it to the groin area, the fungus sets in this highly sweaty area and grows. Localized here, it is known as jock itch.

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Going Barefoot

Going barefoot in public places can lead to picking up many different conditions, and well as a thousand or more germs and other contagious diseases. Stepping directly where a contaminated foot was before can result in your foot picking up the ringworm fungus. You would be unaware of infection until about a week later when the first symptoms begin to show themselves. If you are unsure about the cleanliness of a public area, then put shoes or flip flops on.

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Moist Areas

Wet, damp locations are the perfect breeding ground for the fungus that creates ringworm. Contaminated rooms, such as swimming pool surfaces and their changing areas, school locker rooms, and fitness gyms, can all hold the fungus for extended periods of time. Coming into contact with the benches, tiles, hooks, lockers can lead to contamination.

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Skin Folds

Large folds of skin that experience limited air circulation and sunlight are prime breeding grounds for ringworm. These areas are often damp, and the wetness increases when the body sweats and the moisture has nowhere to go. Especially if you tend to get skin infections, these folds make it easy for the fungus to grow. Ringworm that develops in folds of skin is difficult to heal because of the limited exposure to light and air.

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Genetics

It is possible that some people carry a predisposition to the ringworm fungus and it is genetically ready in their bodies. Times of stress may cause ringworm to develop. People who fight this condition on and off for decades are the most affected, and it is likely that their children will also be susceptible to bouts of ringworm breakout in their lives. Medication can help, as can changes in diet.

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Household Pets

If your pet has ringworm, they will often show it through signs of bald patches of the fur and rough, flaky areas of skin. In pets like cats and dogs, this condition is known as Microsporum Canis. Humans can contract it from their pets. When treating the pets, it is important to disinfect the entire house and pet items such as bed linen, the couch, anywhere the pet may sleep or play.

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Repeat Offender

Once you have experienced the virus, you are more likely to see it come back again and again. This is especially the case if your immune system is weakened or you suffer from other types of skin diseases. You can treat the condition, but once it is in your body, it is likely to plague you regularly. Learning the causes and symptoms of ringworm can help you manage the condition.

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Soil

If you happen to be standing barefoot on the ground that is infected with fungus, you may contract ringworm. Many gardeners who are exposed to earth and flower beds, moss or hay bales, freshly turned soil, and twigs are infected. Soil most affected by a fungus is found in China, U.S, Brazil, Peru and Western Australia. It is wise to always wear work boots and gloves when gardening.


Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.