How is Ringworm in Humans Spread?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Ringworm in humans typically spreads through touch. For example, if an individual touches a ringworm rash on an infected person, he may develop ringworm himself. An individual may also catch ringworm by touching an infected animal, such as a cat or a dog. In addition to person-to-person contact, ringworm in humans is also spread via surfaces that have come into contact with the fungus that causes it as well as shared clothing and personal items. For example, a person could catch ringworm by walking barefoot in a locker room; sharing combs, brushes, or towels with an infected person; or even wearing the clothing of a person who has ringworm.

Ringworm is a circular, raised, itchy rash. Though the name may seem to suggest that it is caused by a worm or some type of parasite, that is not the case; ringworm is caused by a fungus called tineas corporis. It is contagious and is primarily spread via skin-to-skin contact with other humans. There are, however, other ways in which ringworm in humans can spread. For example, a person may catch it by touching an infected pet or a surface an infected party has touched, sharing personal items and clothing contaminated with the fungus, or even touching soil that contains the fungus.


It is important to note that an individual can touch a person who has ringworm and avoid catching it himself. This is due to the fact that an individual is most likely to catch it by touching a part of the skin on which the rash is present. If an individual touches an infected person’s hand and the rash is on his leg, the uninfected party may not catch it. However, it may be possible to catch ringworm from skin-to-skin contact that occurs away from the site of the active infection. This may occur, for example, if the fungus spreads but has yet to make a rash develop; many health experts recommend avoiding all types of skin-to-skin contact with a person who has an active infection.

While a person may know to avoid the skin and hair of an animal who has ringworm, there is a less obvious way to catch it from animals. An individual may also catch ringworm by coming into contact with the dander of an infected animal. Since this can be hard to avoid, swift treatment of infected animals can be critical for avoiding the spread of ringworm in humans.


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Post 3

@turquoise-- You can definitely get ringworm by wearing someone's shirt once. Don't use other people's clothing and don't let other people use yours.

Post 2

Is it possible to get ringworm by sharing clothing only once?

I came home for summer vacation and started seeing circular rashes on my stomach. My doctor did a test for it and it turned out to be ringworm. He asked me if my boyfriend has it and I know he doesn't.

The only other way I could have gotten it is from my college roommate. I had borrowed her t-shirt a few weeks before the semester ended. I only wore her shirt once, for a few hours. Could I have gotten ringworm from her shirt in that short time span?

Post 1

My son got ringworm from wrestling. Wrestling must be the most conducive sport for spreading ringworm. The boys get sweaty and are constantly touching each other. The coaches actually check them for ringworm and other skin infections before matches, but I guess it's not possible to catch it every time.

But my son was responsible unlike some of the other players. He informed his coach about his infection and didn't take part in any matches until the infection had totally cleared up.

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