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As the weather heats up, watch out for ringworm hot spots

Ringworm can be a misleading name for a very common, superficial skin condition that affects over 3 million Americans each year. It's actually NOT caused by a worm or parasite, but instead is the result of a microscopic fungi organism (dermatophytes) that likes to live off of dead skin tissues.

Ringworm's name actually is descriptive of its appearance: It shows up as a circular cluster of small blisters, and can also include scaly skin, that grows outward as the infection spreads. It can also affect the nails, which will make them ticker, discolored and possibly even crack. If you think you might have it, send photos to an online dermatologist right away.

It's very contagious and is spread on contact – so with the summer approaching, be aware of how to reduce your risk when hitting the local public pools, gyms, spas, or other public places.

Here's how to reduce your (or your children's) chances of catching ringworm:

  • Don't let kids share hats or hairbrushes/combs with other children.
  • Watch your use of beach and bathing towels: don't use towels that had been placed on the floors/benches of public places like changing rooms, shower benches, and locker rooms.
  • Be careful about similar potential exposure for clothing and sports equipment.
  • Wear shoes or flip flops in public pool or waterpark bathrooms and in public showers and changing rooms.
  • Keep your pets clean after they visit a dog park, boarding facility, or other public place. Dogs and cats can have ringworm and pass it on to you through direct contact.
  • Put a bandage over any skin abrasions or cuts.

To treat ringworm, it's probably best to get a certain diagnosis from a dermatologist who can also prescribe the right medication or combination or medications depending on the severity of your ringworm infection. Your doctor can also give you tips on some home hygiene adjustments to take to reduce the likelihood of it spreading while it clears up.

If you suspect you might have ringworm, a diagnosis and treatment plan are just a few clicks away. Start an online visit with DermatologistOnCall today.