Commonly known as an infection that affects dogs and cats as well as other domestic animals, ringworm can also affect you and your children. In fact, about 20% of the population will have ring worm at any given time. Ringworm in children, particularly boys, is especially common, so read up on this easily treatable infection.

What Is Ringworm?
Ringworms, also known as tinea, is a fungal infection caused by the dermatophytes fungus. This fungus enjoys eating keratin, which is found in the outer layers of the skin, hair and nails. Like many funguses, dermotophytes thrives on hot, moist areas that are not exposed to too much light. However, this fungus doesn�t just go by the name ring worms; when this fungal infection shows up on the foot, it is known as athlete�s foot. When the crotch area is infected, ringworm is more commonly known as "jock itch."

What Does Ringworm Look Like?
Ringworm gets its name from the appearance of the lesions that occur as a result of the infection. Initially, the lesions start off small, round, scaly and itchy. Because the lesion heals from the inside out, the sores take on a ring-like appearance as they mend. However, even as the lesions heal, the fungus spreads to other parts of the body, so it is necessary to treat the infection. It will not clear up on its own.

Ringworm Causes
Ringworm is mildly contagious until the lesions start to get smaller. You can catch ringworm from other people as well as from domestic animals, most commonly cats and dogs. Some people are more vulnerable to getting the infection, for example people with eczema. In some instances, a person may even be genetically predisposed to the infection, causing repeat infections during their lifetime. Unlike many other infections, getting ringworm once does not give you immunity to it in the future. It is entirely possible to have repeat infections.

Ringworm Symptoms
The symptoms of ringworm are the same in both humans and animals. Depending on the location of the infection, ringworm symptoms can vary. If the infection is present on the skin, the most obvious sign of the fungus is a flaky rash that feels dry, itchy and burns. It is also normal for the skin to look scaly.

Scalp ringworm is slightly different at first from skin ringworm. In this instance, the infection initially starts off as a pimple that grows larger and leaves behind scaly patches. Also, when the infection is found on the scalp, ringworm causes temporary baldness, therefore it is necessary to seek ring worm treatment quickly.

One easy way to self-diagnose ring worm is to expose the affected area to ultraviolet light. If the area in question glows, you most likely have ringworm.

Ringworm Treatment
Traditional treatment of skin ringworm usually involves the application of a topical anti-fungal cream over the course of a few weeks. In some cases, the cream does not require a prescription but it is still a good idea to have the infection confirmed by a doctor before you begin applying any creams. Treating ringworm that is located on the nails or scalp is not as easy and often entails the use of oral medications. Using shampoo that contains selenium sulfide may help with scalp ringworm.

Treating Ringworm With Alternative Medicine
Eating a diet high in vegetables, particularly green and yellow ones, can help as the beta-carotene contained within the vegetables aids in keeping the skin healthy.

Tea tree oil, an extremely potent botanical antifungal, may also help clear up the ringworm. Simply mix 8 to 10 drops of the oil with 1 pint of spring or distilled water and apply this mixture to the affected area three times a day. Continue with the treatment until the infection goes away.

Echinacea, goldenseal and burdock root along with balsam of Peru are herbal remedies that have also been found to be useful in treating ringworm. However, it is important to see a trained herbalist who can recommend the appropriate dosage for your child based on their age and size. As there is no cure for ringworm, re-infections are entirely possible.

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