Ringworm is a skin disease caused by a class of fungi called dermatophytes — a far cry from the old belief that worms caused this ailment.
The history of how ringworm got its name dates back to the 1800s, when there was very little knowledge about the disease.1 Eventually, medical professionals discovered that worms weren't responsible but fungi, yet the name has stuck ever since.
Dermatophytes thrive on keratin, a protein that can only be found on the skin of humans and animals. As such, anyone can get ringworm, from babies to adults, and even your pets, should they come into contact with dermatophytes while playing outdoors. Farm animals such as horses and cattle are also susceptible to ringworm.
Ringworm is very contagious and can spread directly from one person to another (anthropophilic), from the soil (geophilic) or from animals (zoophilic).
Hot and humid areas also create an environment where fungi can thrive, such as public showers and locker rooms. The ease of how ringworm spreads contributes to its reputation as one of the most common skin diseases.
Common Symptoms of Ringworm
The defining symptom of ringworm is a red, circular (and possibly itchy) rash. Generally, ringworm attacks your torso, legs or arms. However, it can appear on specific parts such as your foot (commonly known as athlete's foot). Specific areas infected by ringworm lead to specific symptoms you won't find anywhere else.
For example, scalp ringworm will have black spots where the hair has broken off. If left untreated, ringworm scalp can lead to permanent scarring and hair loss.
Kerion, a pus-filled lump of scalp ringworm, is another symptom that may even cause fever and malaise.2 When spots do appear, refrain from scratching them to help prevent the fungi from spreading to other parts of your body.
Treatments for Ringworm
Generally, treatment for ringworm involves using antifungal creams or oral medication. In other cases, intravenous fluids are used to treat ringworm. These solutions are effective at stopping the spread of fungi, allowing your skin to continuously heal until rashes disappear.
However, they’re known for potentially dangerous side effects: Oral and IV medication may cause liver damage, while topical creams may irritate your rashes further. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural remedies for ringworm. Natural remedies for ringworm are usually applied topically where your rashes are located. The main advantage of natural remedies is that they are safe, affordable and have a very low risk of side effects.
Learn All About Ringworm
Ringworm is curable and even preventable, and you can avoid it by following the information provided in this guide. In the next pages, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this disease, so you can take the necessary measures to prevent it from affecting you or your loved ones.