More than 40 different types of fungus can cause ringworm, warns the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ringworm can show up on your hands, scalp, groin, legs and other parts of your body, and can cause oozing, blistering patches of red circles.
If you want to reduce your risks of catching ringworm, you need to know how this infection is contracted and how you can minimize contact and keep your skin looking and feeling its best.
How is Ringworm “Caught”?
There are four main ways that you might contract ringworm.
1. From other humans
If someone else has ringworm and your skin comes in contact with the fungus on their skin, you may catch ringworm. Symptoms can show up days or even weeks later.
2. From contaminated objects
If someone has ringworm on their foot and goes traipsing through your gym’s locker room, and then you walk on the same contaminated floor, you could catch ringworm. The fungus can live on towels, shoes, counters and other surfaces long after an infected person has touched the object.
3. From animals
Ringworms are very common in pets, and you’ll notice circular patches in a dog or cat’s fur. The fungus that causes ringworm in an animal is the same that causes ringworm in a human, and you can pick it up when petting, grooming or playing with a pet.
It’s often more common in puppies and kittens, and children are especially susceptible.
4. From the ground
This is the least common way you can catch ringworm, but it occasionally happens. If there is a fungus in the dirt and you touch the dirt, you could catch the fungus.
Reduce Your Risks of Ringworm
If you want to limit your risks, try the following strategies:
1. Avoid skin-to-skin and close contact with pets or people who have ringworm.
2. Avoid sharing towels, clothing, bedsheets and other items with others.
3. Wear loose clothing that helps keep your skin dry and ventilated.
4. Avoid areas where ringworm infections are more common, such as locker rooms and swimming pools. When you do visit such locations, wear shoes and avoid bare skin contact with floors and other commonly shared objects.