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This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about Ringworm.

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus that affects the scalp, skin, groin, fingers, feet, or nails. The name of the infection changes based on the body part affected.

The basics

Who gets ringworm?

Anyone can get ringworm. People who have weakened immune systems may be especially at risk for infection. People who use public showers or locker rooms, athletes, people who wear tight shoes and have excessive sweating, and people who have close contact with animals may also be more likely to to get ringworm. Children are more susceptible to some kinds of ringworm, while others occur equally in all age groups. 

How do ringworm infections spread?

Ringworm spreads by direct skin-to-skin contact with infected people or pets. Indirect contact with floors, shower stalls, hairbrushes, toys, and other items used by infected people can also be a source for ringworm infection.


What are the symptoms of ringworm?

Ringworm on the skin usually appears as an itchy, red, raised, scaly patch that may blister and ooze. The patches are usually round and often have a sharp defined red edge with a clear center. Scalp or beard infection, may have bald patches or brittle hair. Infected nails may become discolored and thick. 

How soon do symptoms appear?

It is unknown how soon symptoms will appear after exposure to ringworm. In most cases, ringworm is visible 4-10 days on the body and 10-14 days on the scalp after contact.  


How can you prevent ringworm?

Don't share items such as clothing, hats, brushes, and towels with others. Keep skin and feet clean and dry, and wear sandals or shoes at gyms, pools and lockers. Avoid touching pets with bald spots. 


What is the treatment for ringworm?

Initially, ringworm may get better or even go away if an infected person:

  • keeps their skin clean and dry
  • washes their bed sheets and nightclothes frequently
  • uses over the counter antifungal lotions, powders, or creams

A continuing infection may need treatment by a health care provider who can prescribe medication. Pets (especially cats) may also need treatment.

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