There are many parasites, illnesses, and infections that can plague our bodies, from fleas and lice to bacteria, viruses and fungus. These can be picked up from many different activities and areas in our environment, and some are far more dangerous than others. Those that aren’t necessarily as dangerous as others can still be relatively irritating and can also lead to more serious problems down the line. Take the common ringworm, for example. Contrary to its name, this is, in fact, not caused by a worm. The circular rash that develops on the surface of the skin is actually caused by mould-like parasites that take up residence on the outer layer of your body’s skin cells. Ringworm can be very itchy as well as cause serious discolouration and scaliness of the skin, as well as the well-known thin red ring around the affected area. There are a number of activities that can cause ringworm, and to help you reduce your risk, we’ve listed some here.
Playing With Pets
Due to the highly contagious nature of ringworm, and the fact that it can spread to animals too, it’s very important that you check your pets for this problem should they show any symptoms such as excessive scratching and biting of a particular area. However, sometimes this isn’t spotted until it’s too late and spending time fussing your pets that have been infected with ringworm has a high risk of spreading it to your own skin. To reduce this risk, you should wash your hands and clothes after touching your pet and try to limit physical contact during this time. You should also vacuum your home regularly and the areas where your pet sits. Ringworm, when treated, can disappear after two to four weeks, and you should take these precautions during the course of this time.
Brushing Hair And Grooming
As it can spread very easily to people from objects, surfaces, animals, and other people, it’s imperative that you limit interaction with those you might suspect have come into contact with ringworm. That also means your personal items that might have been used by others too. One particular item that can often spread ringworm is hairbrushes and other grooming tools. Sharing your hairbrush with someone that might have ringworm is a sure-fire way for you to contract this infection too. You shouldn’t share a hairbrush, comb, or even towels with someone that has been infected with ringworm, and it’s highly recommended to wash these items thoroughly with hot water and an effective disinfectant product.
Similar to sharing hairbrushes and towels, clothing can also be a perfect vessel for the transfer of ringworm. As mentioned above, ringworm is highly contagious, and it’s common for people to forget just how easy it can spread. While it can only spread via direct contact and isn’t airborne, it’s easy to ignore the surface and items that someone may touch and then subsequently touch it afterwards. This also means that you’re not protected from catching ringworm by simply touching someone on their clothes rather than their skin. A pat on the arm can just as easily lead to you contracting the infection as a pat on their bare skin. Sharing clothing is, therefore, even more problematic as their clothes may have been in contact with the infected area for a prolonged period and will have given the fungus time to set into the fibres, and a washing machine cycle may not be entirely effective at removing it entirely.
Playing Contact Sports
A common way for individuals to contract ringworm is by playing sports that involve direct contact. Rugby and football are common activities that can spread ringworm, as they can be spread by one single moment of contact. If someone has ringworm, it’s important for them to be honest and avoid these sports for a few weeks until the infection has cleared up so as to not infect anyone else. Unfortunately, you cannot guarantee that others will be honest, and so if you suspect someone may have ringworm or is openly continuing to play in the knowledge that they have it, it’s best for you to take a step back and avoid playing. Simply catching a ball that someone with the infection has touched might be enough for you to catch the virus. If you do end up playing, ensure that you wash your hands and clothes rigorously afterwards.
Not only can you catch ringworm from contact with others, but if the conditions are right in the environment, ringworm can thrive in soil. As a fungus, it requires a humid and warm environment to spread and survive. Because of this, it’s always important to wash your hands, tools, and clothing after gardening to limit the chances of this spreading. It’s especially problematic if you have a cut or graze and come into contact with soil that harbours the fungus. This can increase the chance of the infection taking hold, so it’s important to wear protection whenever gardening. You should wear gardening gloves and consider applying a sealed plaster to cuts and scrapes. This is essential in reducing your chances of infection from ringworm and other dangerous pathogens when out in the garden.