Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.
~ Lao Tzu
I’ve played a lot of sports throughout my young life as well as my more “senior” years. I love sports, the camaraderie as well as the cardio and other healthy aspects of playing the many different sports out there. I’d recommend you find one and enjoy a very robust and healthy life.
However, there are risks to playing sports and interacting with other humans and one of those risks is the transmission of diseases as well as other conditions. One of which we’ll be discussing today is the answer to what is ringworm.
Ringworm though oddly called has nothing at all to do with worms. In fact, ringworm is a clinical condition caused by fungi. Ringworm is also known as dermatophytosis.
Ringworm as known as dermatophytosis gets its name from the Greek term for a group of 3 fungi that cause skin conditions in humans and animals. The name for this group of 3 fungi is dermatophytes.
These fungi or dermatophytes feed on keratin which is the material that is found on the outer layer of hair, skin and nails. As such, you can find ringworm in all 3 places of the human body. In other words, ringworm can be found anywhere on the human body. Pleasant thought.
In fact, there are many types of ringworm that have other names. Some of which you might know.
Depending on the area of the body that these fungi attack, the ringworm is given a Latin name. For example, for ringworm or dermatophytosis of the face it is called tinea faciei and if it attacks the palms and hands it is classified as tinea manuum. Two of the most common ringworm that we know by other names are jock itch and athlete’s foot.
For those especially curious, the two most common type of fungus that causes ringworm are Trichophyton and Microsporum.
What does ringworm look like?
With that preamble to what is ringworm behind us, perhaps the next logical question is what does ringworm look like. There is picture here of it if you’re curious.
The description of ringworm comes from its name in many ways. It is a ring on the screen or a circle. It looks to be like a crater or a solar eclipse if you will on the skin. A raised reddish ring on the skin.
How do you get ringworm?
How do you get ringworm? Similarly to how we catch most communicable diseases out there. As mentioned earlier, ringworm is especially common amongst those who play sports and especially contact sports like wrestling.
Ringworm loves warm, moist environments and when you play sports you get warm and moist. More than this they can thrive in the warm and moist environments found in locker rooms. Ringworm is caught by direct contact with the fungi under such conditions. Though of course the fungi may survive outside of these ideal conditions such as on dry hair shafts as long as there is keratin to feast upon.
Is ringworm contagious? Well, bearing the above in mind the answer is obviously yes.
How to treat ringworm
How do you treat ringworm? There are a number of ways to treat it. But first, you should not treat it with steroidal cream. Sometimes ringworm is misdiagnosed as pityriasis rosea which responds very well to steroid cream. Pityriasis rosea is a generally benign skin rash that will last up to 6 weeks and might cause discomfort.
However, treating ringworm as if it were pityriasis rosea with steroid cream will cause the ringworm to continue to grow but without the raised red ring commonly seen in ringworm. Thus it makes it more difficult to combat in the future as it is difficult to identify.
Ringworm home remedies include applying tea tree oil directly on the ringworm 3 or so times per day. This will very often work well, but you must continue to apply it for 2 or 3 weeks. It is especially important to continue applying tea tree oil for at least a week after you can no longer visibly see the ringworm.
Other ringworm treatment for humans include using anti fungal topical treatment creams with the antifungals miconazole and terbinafine as examples. Very often these creams are available as over the counter ringworm treatment. Check with your pharmacist, they will have the best information for you.
As to what is the best treatment for ringworm, that is generally an anti fungal solution but will depend on where the ringworm is located and the severity of your ringworm’s fungus. Follow your doctor’s or pharmacists suggestions.
It is also important to know that ringworm is a zoonotic disease which means that it is transferable between species. Most commonly ringworm in dogs and ringworm in cats can be transferred to humans through human animal contact such as petting.
How to prevent ringworm
It is a cliche that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that is certainly the case with ringworm.
Although ringworm is relatively benign it can cause some itching and discomfort. Plus it looks unsightly and folks will keep arms distance from you if they notice that you are infected. As they should.
And it would be worth to take some preventative measures against ringworm because it is so prevalent. If you’re wondering how many people are infected by ringworm it has been estimated that around 20% of the population has it.
So what can you do to avoid getting ringworm? Well there is quite a bit. If you play sports be sure that your opponents are not infected as best you can be sure. If you feel you might have been infected then wash daily with an anti fungal and antibacterial soap for a week afterwards.
Don’t share towels and other sport equipment with those who might be infected. In locker rooms, wear sandals or flip flops in the shower and throughout the locker areas.
If you think you or your clothes might have been infected then wash them in hot water with a fungicidal soap. Also avoid touching or petting animals who have bald spots as that is one of the signs of ringworm infection in animals.
Lastly, practice excellent personal hygiene. Wash hands often and well especially after using washrooms, public washrooms especially and touching other people whether handshakes, hugs etc, who you don’t know very well.