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Risk & Prevention

Who gets dermatophyte infections?

Dermatophyte infections are very common. They can affect anyone, including people who are healthy. Dermatophyte infections may be more common among people with suppressed immune systems, people who use communal baths, and people who are involved in contact sports such as wrestling, and people who have close contact with animals. Some species are found more commonly in hot, humid environments. Outbreaks of infections can occur in schools, households, and institutional settings.

How can I prevent a dermatophyte infection?

Good hygiene, such as regular handwashing, is important. People should avoid sharing hairbrushes, hats, and other articles of clothing that may come into contact with infected areas. Pets with signs of skin disease should be seen by a veterinarian. Beauty salons and barbershops should disinfect instruments with approved disinfectants after each use. Contact your local and/or state health department for specific guidelines and regulations in your area.

For more information on preventing athlete's foot, visit the CDC's Healthy Water website.

There is a ringworm outbreak in my child's school/daycare center. What should I do?

You should contact your local health department. Your local health department may have information about how long children with ringworm should remain out of school/daycare. Tell your child not to share personal items, such as clothing, hairbrushes and hats, with other people. Encourage frequent handwashing. Take your child to a pediatrician if he or she develops symptoms.

My pet has ringworm and I am worried about ringworm in my house. What should I do?

Make sure your pet has been seen by a veterinarian. If you develop symptoms, you should see your doctor. There are no federal guidelines about ringworm and environmental disinfection. Infection may occur through direct contact with an infected person or animal or from contact with contaminated environmental surfaces. Regular cleaning may help remove fungal spores from the home environment. Make sure to use cleaning products according to the manufacturer's labeling, and never mix cleaning products, as harmful fumes may result. For surfaces that are safe to bleach, a quarter-cup of bleach in a gallon of water can be used for disinfection. For fabrics or soft items that are washable, washing with hot water and drying with hot air may help to kill the fungus.

More information for pet owners is available at the CDC's Healthy Pets website.

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