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Dermatophytes (Ringworm and Tinea)

Germ Type: Fungus

Dermatophytes cause common skin, hair and nail infections, including ringworm and tinea. These infections can affect the skin on almost any area of the body, such as the scalp, legs, arms, feet, or groin. Symptoms can include itchiness, redness, scaling, or cracking of the skin. A ring with irregular borders and a clear central area can also occur; hair loss can occur with scalp infections. Two common tinea infections are tinea pedis (athlete's foot) and tinea cruris (jock itch).

Dermatophyte infections typically occur on moist areas or folds of the skin, and can also contaminate items in the environment, such as clothing, towels and bedding. It's possible for a dermatophyte infection to become infected by bacteria. Ringworm is easily spread between children, and is also a common infection for animals such as farm animals, dogs, cats, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

  • Spread via: Direct contact with an infected person or animal; or indirect contact with a contaminated surface such as a damp towel. Ringworm can be contracted through close contact with from domestic animals.
  • Prevention: Regular handwashing can prevent the spread of dermatophyte infection. Also avoid sharing hairbrushes, hats, towels, and articles of clothing that may come into contact with infected areas. Pets with signs of skin disease should be evaluated by a veterinarian.