You might have heard of a condition called ringworm. Despite its name, ringworm isn't an actual worm. This skin condition is actually caused by a type of fungus called a dermatophyte.
Ringworm is very contagious. It can pass quickly from person to person in close quarters, like locker rooms or day care centers. The fungus also can spread from pets (mainly cats) to people.
If you do catch ringworm, you'll notice red, possibly ring-shaped rashes on your skin. Dermatophytes like warm, moist areas, so you may find these itchy, scaly rashes on areas of your body that tend to sweat, such as the groin area (where it's known as jock itch), feet (also called athlete's foot) and scalp. Ringworm on the scalp can create bald patches along with the rash.
You can catch ringworm if you touch an infected animal's skin or fur. Dogs and cats can carry ringworm, especially when they're young.
There is a ringworm vaccine available for cats, but it's not the most effective preventive measure. If you notice any patches of missing hair on your pet's skin, take the animal to the vet for a screening.
If you get ringworm, applying a topical antifungal cream or lotion will usually clear up the fungus. When topical medications aren't strong enough, your doctor can prescribe you an oral antifungal drug.