Ringworm What is ringworm? Ringworm is a disease that can be transmitted from pets to humans and is not actually caused by a worm, but rather by a fungus capable of infecting the outer layer of skin and hair. Various species of ringworm- causing fungi are capable of living on many different animals, people and sometimes in soil. Ringworm is most commonly recognized in cats (often kittens), although dogs, rabbits and rodents can also become infected. How is ringworm treated? Ringworm requires medical attention. In pets, treatment may include bathing with special shampoo and applications of topical antifungal ointment to the infected area. For infections nonresponsive to bathing and topicals, or in the case of widespread infection, oral medications may be needed. Some pets with long hair and difficult-to-manage infections may need to be shaved in order to be treated. What can you do to protect the entire family from ringworm? Be aware of whom your pets play with and discourage or prevent contact with ringworm-infected pets. Practice good hygiene for both your family and pet. Encourage family members to wash exposed areas of skin after petting and playing with pets. Seek medical attention from your Banfield doctor if you notice that your pet displays excessive itching, crusting or hair loss. If you have any concerns about ringworm in your human family members, please seek the advice of a physician. Who in the family is at risk for ringworm? If a pet is diagnosed with ringworm, all family members are at risk, although people who spend time cuddling and sleeping with infected pets are more commonly infected. Children and people with weak immune systems are more susceptible than others to ringworm infection. How is ringworm transmitted? Ringworm is spread by direct contact with infected animals by fungal spores in their hair or scales. In some cases, ringworm can be acquired directly from the soil. How do I know if my pet or I are infected with ringworm? In animals, ringworm often appears as a crusty or scaly patch on the skin and is often accompanied by hair loss. Affected areas may become red or develop excessive pigment. The areas may or may not be itchy. In people, the infection may appear on the skin as a ring with reddish borders (often on the arms and hands) and is usually quite itchy. If you have any concerns about ringworm in your human family members, please seek the advice of a physician. For additional information, please contact your Banfield medical team.