Dermatophytosis or ringworm is a clinical condition caused by fungal infection of the skin in humans, pets such as cats, and domesticated animals such as sheep and cattle. The term “ringworm” is a misnomer, since the condition is caused by fungi and not by parasitic worms. The fungi that cause parasitic infection (dermatophytes) feed on keratin, the material found in the outer layer of skin, hair, and nails. These fungi thrive on skin that is warm and moist, but may also survive directly on the outsides of hair shafts or in their interiors. This is why when you here the term ringworm you automatically think of a red circular lesion on the skin.
Although the lesion is not always in the shape of a ring, symptoms do include hair loss, usually in small patches at first. As time goes on the patches may disappear or appear at other locations on the skin. There might be scratching due to itchiness. If the hair loss occurs on the face or feet there is a chance it is due to digging habits or exposure to rodents.
The pictureabove shows typical lesions seen in Ringworm. A diagnosis of this disease can not be made based just on the appearance of the lesions because other skin conditions (Demodex for example) can show similar lesions.
People will sometimes pick up a case of Ringworm from their pet, but just because a pet has Ringworm does not necessarily mean that the people that interact with that pet will develop the problem. A dog or cat can transmit Ringworm to a person without showing any symptoms at all.
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