Although the word worm is in the name, ringworm is not caused by a worm or any other kind of animal. Ringworm in humans is a fungus infection. It can affect people or animals. The name ringworm comes from the tell-tale red ring that appears on the infected person's skin.
The trademark look of ringworm on humans is the reddish round rash on the skin with normal looking skin in the center. In addition the rash may be crusty and hard to the touch. The human head is also susceptible to this fungal infection, especially the scalp. Although ringworm of the scalp may show up as the signature round ring, it may also reveal itself as a small sore similar to a pimple that slowly enlarges over time.
One of the unsightly side effects of ringworm of the scalp is that it creates bald spots. What occurs is the hair inside the scalp of the infected area becomes hard and then breaks at the base. Another very well known type of ringworm in humans is athletes foot. Although it does not have the same ring-like look as ringworm it still can show up as a red crusty rash that is very itchy. Fortunately most athletes food is not difficult to treat and over the counter treatments generally will easily clear it up. No matter which type of ringworm you encounter, one thing must be noted; all types are very contagious and can spread quickly through direct contact.
The most common way to catch ringworm is through direct contact with another person or animal that has the infection. And because the fungus can remain dormant for extended periods of time, it can be contracted by coming into contact with infected objects, such as clothing, furniture or other fixtures. Ringworm also has a long incubation period (10 days) so it is often difficult if not impossible to figure out where it was first contracted. The fastest way to get rid of ringworm (although not necessarily the least expensive) is getting a diagnosis from a medical practitioner so the correct treatment can be prescribed.
Cover the spot (s) with a band-aid or clothing. Make sure that you continue treatment for the entire length of time that you doctor recommends even if the rash has disappeared. You should also wash all of your bedding or any house hold fabric that has come into contact with the rash with bleach and hot water. Repeat the treatment if the unwashed rash comes into contact with you house hold items again. Avoid your rash coming into contact with any other pets or people.
Ringworm is generally spread through scratching. It is generally considered one of the itchiest rashes you will ever get. This is why it is so hard to get rid of. It's just plain difficult not to scratch at all. Even with treatment the rash remains itchy, increasing in intensity until about the fifth day after the rash first appeared. You must just remain tough and bear with it. After about the fifth day the itching will start to subside.
When you are dealing with ringworm you need to be diligent. Stay on top of the treatment for the full prescribed length of time and change the band-aid daily. Ringworm will linger or reappear if it is not treated correctly. After having ringworm once, you definitely will not want to go through the whole process again.