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Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect the body, scalp or feet.

What causes Ringworm?

A fungus

How is Ringworm spread?

By direct contact with lesions of infected persons or pets, or from contaminated objects. To prevent spread of infection, children should not share hats, combs, towels, clothing or personal items that may be contaminated

What are the symptoms of Ringworm?

Body: Ringworm appears as flat, spreading ring-shaped lesions. The edge of the lesion may be dry and scaly or moist and crusted. The center often becomes clear as the lesion spreads outward
Scalp: Ringworm may be hard to detect in the early stages. It often begins as a small scaly patch on the scalp. Mild redness and swelling may occur. Infected hairs become brittle and break off easily
Feet: Also known as Athlete’s foot, it is often seen as scaling or cracking of the skin of the foot, especially between the toes. May have blisters with thin, watery fluid. Itching may occur. Can lead to skin infections or development of toenail fungal infections.

For ringworm of the body, it takes about four to 10 days after exposure for symptoms to appear. For ringworm of the scalp, it takes 10 to 14 days. For ringworm of the feet, the incubation is unknown

How long is it contagious?

Contagious as long as infected lesions are present, but a person’s ability to spread is greatly reduced once treatment has begun.

How can I prevent infection?

1. If you suspect ringworm in your household members, contact your health care provider.
2. Antifungal ointments are often used for treating ringworm. Oral medication may also be necessary when infection of the hair or scalp is more severe.
3. Household contacts, including pets, should be checked for signs of infection. If infection is present, treatment should be started as soon as possible.
4. Practice good hand hygiene after touching lesions.
5. Wash combs and brushes used by the infected person in hot, soapy water.


For more information, please call the Northern Kentucky Health Department at 859.363.2070 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Revised November 2014