Ringworm in Humans vs Animals

Ever wondered how ringworm in humans differs from ringworm in animals? Maybe not! But, there are some interesting differences between the two.

Yes, ringworm lesions can be itchy and scratchy for both man and animals. In order to get rid of ringworm for good, we must understand the differences and how to best treat each type of ringworm infection.

Different Dermatophytes...

In order to get ringworm, both animals and humans must come in contact with fungal spores. There are many thousands of different types of fungi. However, very few can actually cause itchy skin rashes that we know as ringworm.

Ringworm is caused by fungi called dermatophytes. Dermatophytes inhabit the skin, hair, and nail cells. They feast off of dead keratinized cells.

Both humans and animals can get any type of ringworm causing fungi from each other. Certain strains of dermatophyte fungi infect animals more than humans. Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton equinum, and Trichophyton verrucosum are just a few types of dermatophytes that are more often found in animals.

Cats are typically carriers of M. canis. But, animals or humans can get or transmit this particular organism. T. equinum is often found in horses. M. gypseum, T. mentagrophytes, and M. canis tend to invade the hair follicles and are less likely to invade the skin cells.

M. gypseum and T. mentagrophytes can cause more serious infections of the hair follicles in animals.

T. verrucosum is most associated with ringworm in cattle. M. gypseum is a geophilic dermatophyte that thrives in and soil.

Trichophyton tonsurans is most known for causing scalp ringworm in humans. Trichophton rubrum is one of the main causes of human athlete's foot and nail fungal infections.

Getting Ringworm

Ringworm fungi is transmitted in many ways. Both humans and animals can acquire ringworm in pretty much the same fashion. Indirect and direct contact with fungal spores spread the skin infection quite rapidly. Untreated fungal spores may remain on surfaces for a year or more!

Fungal spores are found in variety of places. Soil is important source of fungi causing ringworm. Gardeners and anyone who regularly handles soil should be aware of the potential to contract ringworm in this manner. Animals that wallow in spore contaminated soil are excellent hosts for fungi.

Shared objects can also spread ringworm. Shared animal grooming tools, watering bowls, and sleeping quarters allows ringworm to quickly move from one animal to another. With humans, shared towels, combs, and hats can all transmit fungal spores.

In both animals and humans, any break or cut in the skin can allow dermatophytes to enter and infect the body. Animals and humans with weakened immune systems are prime targets for ringworm. Young children and animals are also more likely to develop ringworm infections that fully developed humans and animals.

Differing Looks...

Some dermatophytes have more affinity for specifically targeting hair, skin, or nail cells. Some dermatophytes can cause more serious infections than others. Each type of ringworm causing fungi can have a very distinct appearance.

Ringworm in humans may not quite look like animal ringworm. Human body ringworm is associated with circular, red, raised lesions with defined borders. In dogs, the face and limbs common areas of infection.

M. gyseum and T mentagrophytes can cause animals to develop skin nodules or hard lumps on infected spots. Crusty areas on the body and diffuse hair loss may not resemble human ringworm. Therefore, it's important to have your pets examined by a vet if you notice any unusual skin lesions on their coats.

Varying Treatments...

Anti-fungal medications are the primary treatment for ringworm in both humans and animals. Oral and topical medications help to eradicate ringworm causing fungi. For animals, shampoos and dips like lime sulfur and chlorhexidine soothe inflamed skin.

With animals, the focus should be on stopping the spread of ringworm as soon as possible. With ringworm in humans, the dermatophyte infection is more of a nuisance than a serious medical problem.

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