What is ringworm and what causes it?"Ringworm" is the common name given to a fungal infection of the superficial layers of the skin, hair and nails.
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The name comes from the classical appearance of the round, red, raised 'ring' marking the boundary of inflammatory lesions in people infected with the disease. Not good toward boarding, grooming, prescription and non-prescription medication, and retail items.
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The common name of ringworm is somewhat misleading, in that it is not an infection caused by a worm, and the infected areas are not always ring-shaped. The fungi responsible for ringworm infections belong to a specialized group known as dermatophytes, so the medical name for this disease is dermatophytosis. Some species of dermatophytes are species specific, meaning that they will only infect one species, whereas others can be spread between different species of animals, or from animals to man.
The three most common fungal species that may cause ringworm in dogs are Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. In animals, the fungi commonly infect hair follicles, which  causes the affected hair shafts to break off at the skin line. As the fungus multiplies, the lesions may become irregularly shaped and spread over the dog's body. What does ringworm look like?In the dog, ringworm lesions usually appear as areas of hair loss (alopecia) that are roughly circular. As these circular lesions enlarge, the central area heals and hair may begin to regrow in the middle of the lesion.The affected hair shafts are fragile and easily broken. These lesions are not usually itchy, but sometimes they become inflamed and develop a scabby covering.
Some dogs may have ringworm fungi present in their hair or skin without showing any clinical signs of disease. These dogs can spread ringworm to other animals or people despite having no obvious skin lesions, and are called "asymptomatic carriers." Asymptomatic carriers are especially problematic in multi-animal environments such as animal shelters or kennels. It may be passed by direct contact with an infected animal or person, or by handling contaminated objects or touching contaminated surfaces.
The fungal spores may remain dormant on combs, brushes, food bowls, furniture, bedding, carpet or other environmental surfaces for many months (reportedly up to 18 months).

The amount of environmental contamination is an important factor in the development of a ringworm infection, as is the age of the exposed person or animal.
Healthy adult humans usually are resistant to infection unless there is a break in the skin such as a scratch.
Elderly people, young children, and adults with immune system weaknesses or skin sensitivities are especially susceptible to ringworm infection. If your child has ringworm, he or she may have acquired it from your pet or from another child at school. If you or your family members have suspicious skin lesions, check with your family physician immediately.
How long does it take to get it?The incubation period between exposure to ringworm fungus and the development of ringworm lesions usually ranges from seven to fourteen days; some cases may take up to 21 days before signs of infection develop.
How is a ringworm infection diagnosed?-->-->Diagnosis is made in one or more of the following three ways: Identification of the typical "ringworm" lesions on the skin. Some skin ointments and other materials will fluoresce and may give a false positive result.
While this technique is acceptable in certain situations as a rapid screening tool in multi-animal facilities, diagnosis made on Wood's lamp evaluation is not always reliable. The preferred method for diagnosing ringworm in dogs is by fungal culture of a sample of hair or skin cells. A positive culture can sometimes be confirmed within a couple of days, but in some cases the fungal spores may be slow to grow.

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