Ringworm is a contagious infection caused by a fungus. It is transmitted between humans, but you can also get ringworm from coming into contact with pets as well as personal objects contaminated with the fungus, like a comb. The fungus thrives in moist, warm spots, making wet skin more susceptible to contamination. A doctor can usually diagnose ringworm by simply looking at your skin. If you want to see the signs for yourself, here is a guide to ringworm:

Ringworm can appear anywhere
After the fungus begins to multiply on the skin, ringworm shows up as several scaly, red patches. Ringworm can appear on your beard, body and scalp and will cause bald patches in areas with hair. The fungus can also damage your nails, causing discoloration. If ringworm appears on your feet, it is commonly known as athlete’s foot. But if it appears on your groin, it is called jock itch.

Look out for scaly patches
Ringworm is recognized by red scaly patches on the skin. These patches often itch, and they may blister. Ringworm is fairly distinguishable because the patches usually have sharply-defined edges that are red on the outside and fade to your skin tone in the center. This shape can look like a ring, thereby explaining the infection’s common name.

Treat at home or with a doctor
Ringworm may eventually resolve itself. Keep your skin dry because it prevents the ringworm from multiplying. Apply over-the-counter anti-fungal creams, powder or lotion onto the patches to combat spreading. Clothes should be loose and comfortable around any infected areas, and you should wash your sheets and change into fresh clothes every night to stop reinfection. Severe or long lasting cases of ringworm may need medical intervention. Doctors can prescribe pills or topical medication to treat the fungus.

Complications can arise
Fungal infections usually stick to the surface of the skin, and they rarely induce illness. Nonetheless, persistent ringworm should be addressed by a doctor. Ringworm usually improves after four weeks of self-care. If ringworm affects your hair, you should also seek medical intervention to prevent balding. People with diabetes or weakened immune systems should also reach out to a health care professional, as ringworm could lead to larger problems.

Ringworm is preventable
Some people run a higher risk of ringworm than others. People who sweat excessively or participate in contact sports are more likely to be infected, as are individuals living in damp and crowded conditions. Clean your skin and feet, as well as keep them dry. That can help stop the fungus from making a home on your body. Other preventative measures include shampooing your hair and wearing sandals at the gym or pool. You should also avoid sharing items like towels or helmets, and try not to touch pets with bald spots, however cute they may be.