How you get it: Petting an infected animal, most commonly a cat.
“It can go either way,” Ng notes. “You can give an animal ringworm, or they can give it to you.”
Pets typically get ringworms through contact with an infected animal. People pass it by touching an infected person’s skin or contaminated items like unwashed clothing, shower surfaces and combs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In pets: Fur loss is common, because the infection damages hair follicles. This is often the only sign of infection, Ng says.
Vets check for ringworm using a black light. If fur glows green, Fluffy has it. Even if the black-light test is negative, they’ll do a fungal culture to double-check.
Topical shampoo can help, but oral antifungal medication is the best treatment, Ng says. Note-self limiting. Oral antifungals can be hard on a pet, also expensive.
In humans: It causes a ring-like patch on your scalp or skin, says Robin Miller, M.D., Lifescript women’s health expert.
Skin patches are itchy, raised and have sharply defined red edges. On the scalp, it shows up as bald spots. And it leaves nails discolored, thick and crumbly (athletes foot).
Skin ringworm shows up 4-10 days after contact and is treated with over-the-counter antifungal cream or pills containing clotrimazole.
Scalp ringworm usually takes 10-14 days and you’ll need to see a doctor for treatment.
- See your doctor and vet immediately if you or your pet have symptoms.
- Bleach all bedding your cat has been on to kill fungus.
- Clean all surfaces Fluffy has touched with diluted bleach.
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By Dr. Eugene Pei DVM and Staff at Animal Central