What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus. The infection causes a rash that may have a ringshape with a raised edge. It is usually quite itchy and flaky.

  • When the scalp is infected, there is often an area of baldness.
  • Fungal infections of the feet are usually very itchy and cause cracking between the toes.

Other names for ringworm include:

  • Tinea
  • Dermatophytosis
  • Athlete’s foot (ringworm of the feet)
  • Jock itch (ringworm of the groin)

How is it spread?

  • You can get ringworm from people, animals, objects or places.
  • Ringworm spreads from person to person by touch.
    • When someone with ringworm touches or scratches the rash, the fungus sticks to the fingers or gets under the fingernails.
    • The fungus is then spread when that person touches someone else.
  • Ringworm can also be spread by using items such as clothes, towels, or hairbrushes that were used by someone with a ringworm infection.
  • Animals can carry some types of fungi on their fur or skin without showing signs of ringworm infection.
    • Sick or carrier animals can transmit fungi to people by direct or indirect (hair or dander) contact.
  • Places like gyms, shower stalls, and floors can transmit fungus if used by someone with ringworm.
    • Other people can catch the fungus if exposed to these places.

What is the treatment?

Ringworm can be cured with medication. Some medications are taken by mouth; others are ointments or creams to be placed on the infected area.

You can avoid spreading ringworm to others by:

  • Follow your doctor’s advice for proper treatment
  • Keep your skin, hair and nails clean and dry
  • Wash towels and clothing in hot soapy water to destroy the fungus
  • Stay away from common areas such as community pools and gyms until your infection goes way
  • Return to school or childcare facility after treatment has been initiated

How can I prevent ringworm?

  • Do not share clothing, towels, hairbrushes or other personal items
  • Keep common-use areas clean
  • Use a floor and bath cleaner that contains a fungus-killing (called fungicidal) agent
    • For example, a common household bleach or cresol (specific type of disinfectant)
  • Use good handwashing techniques

Where can I get more information?

Contact your physician or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.

Contact Information

(702) 759-1000

Updated on: August 21, 2018

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