Fungus, Not Parasite

Things I’ve learned owning my own cat as an adult: make sure there’s plenty the CAN scratch around, cats are very sensitive about food, and ringworm is a fungal affliction.

Ringworm, like I said, is actually a common infection on the skin caused by fungus. It is not a parasite but is called ring “worm” because of the ring pattern on the skin. This is also much harder to notice on pets by the way—with all the fur in the way.

Ringworm is super contagious and can show symptoms pretty much anywhere on the body, even hiding on the scalp. There are slightly different visual symptoms depending on where it is though; most often though, ringworm will be ring-shaped spots with dry/scaly skin. Ringworm usually comes from having contact with an infected person or coming into contact with something that has fungus on it. It’s safe to say adults have some immunity (but not complete immunity) but those with weaker immune systems such as children or the elderly have a higher chance of catching ringworm.

Ringworm isn’t really life-threatening, but is still very uncomfortable and contagious so you should see your doctor/vet as soon as you can. It is a self-limiting condition (meaning it will eventually go away on its own in healthy people unless reinfection occurs) but it will go MUCH faster if you follow your doctor’s advice. Some infections (especially those in the scalp and nail-bed) will need prescription treatment but there are some over-the-counter treatments you should use ONLY as your doctor advises.

While the treatment is taking place, you should do your best to clean your home: vacuum, wash all the bedding, wipe down hard surfaces, etc. You should also avoid touching thing unnecessarily and do not share if you have ringworm. If you can, try to cover the rash with clothing or bandaging; if it’s a pet, you may want to consider confining them to a particular part of the house until they are no longer contagious.

It’s a pain to deal with ringworm and may take some time to resolve itself, but make sure you keep you and your home clean.

Info: The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne: https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Ringworm/

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