What is the Most Common Cause of Ringworm?

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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 May 2020
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A ringworm infection can take hold or become more likely to develop for a number of reasons. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can be spread between people and animals. Some of the many causes of ringworm include contact with people, animals, or objects that have ringworm fungal spores on them and improper cleaning of the places where ringworm fungus is likely to grow.

The primary cause of ringworm is simply contact with an infected person or animal, including skin-to-skin contact or contact with objects that person or animal has touched. One cause of ringworm infections is sharing personal items such as towels, hairbrushes, or clothes with someone who has ringworm. Fungal infections such as ringworm are one of the many reasons doctors and other health professionals advise individuals to avoid sharing personal items. When a ringworm infection clears up, usually with the use of an antifungal cream or other treatment, it is necessary to thoroughly clean the house, clothing, and personal items of the previously infected individual. Failure to do this can lead to a second ringworm infection, because ringworm spores can be left behind for a very long time on household items and surfaces and still remain contagious.

Ringworm thrives in warm, moist areas such as the groin or feet, especially between the toes. This is thought to be one of the reasons ringworm is commonly found in areas like gyms, locker rooms, and pool areas. One cause of ringworm infection spreading from person to person could be a failure to keep these areas properly cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. Individuals may be able to reduce the chances of catching ringworm by wearing yoga shoes or pool shoes in these areas instead of going completely barefoot. It is also very important to disinfect gym mats and workout equipment between each use, as spores left behind on the equipment can be a cause of ringworm as well.

More rarely, contact with ringworm-infected soil has been known to be a cause of ringworm. This is often avoidable by taking normal protective measures. If the ringworm spores are even present in the soil, wearing gloves and shoes while working or playing in the dirt, especially to cover any breaks in the skin that may allow the fungal spores to enter the body, should be enough to prevent infection from ringworm.

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