The term ringworm can be confusing as people may perceive ringworm to be a worm infection. But ringworm is, in fact, a fungal infection triggered by a fungus. Ringworm is a highly contagious infection of the scalp or skin which can commonly occur during pregnancy.
In medical terms, ringworm is called tinea. Ringworm infection can be of several types depending on which body part it affects like tinea capitis (the scalp), tinea corporis (the body), tinea pedis (the feet), tinea cruris (the groin), tinea manus (the hands).
Some of the symptoms of ringworm infection can be:
- The skin may appear inflamed with round patches which form a distinct ring.
- In some cases, the skin in the centre of the ring may be clear.
- The skin may become blistered or scaly.
- The skin may feel very itchy.
- In case the ringworm infection affects the scalp chunks of hair may start to fall out.
What Are the Risks and Effects of Ringworm in Pregnancy
A common concern of pregnant women may be ‘Can ringworm affect pregnancy?’. The answer is: in most cases, it is highly unlikely that ringworm can have a negative impact on the pregnancy. Some of the points that you may like to keep in mind are as follows:
- A pregnant woman is at a similar risk of catching ringworm infection as any other healthy person as the skin infection is easily transmissible.
- Ringworm during pregnancy may not cause any harm to the unborn baby.
- The fungus responsible for the skin infection feeds on the dead tissue that is present on the skin’s surface and can not invade into the deeper layers of the skin.
- In very rare cases even if the fungus does manage to enter it cannot survive in the mucous membranes.
It is generally easy to treat ringworm infection. But during pregnancy, it is important to be careful while taking oral medications as some medicines can adversely affect the well-being of the baby. So always refer to a doctor in case you get infected with ringworm while pregnant. The doctor may recommend a topical cream comprising of triamcinolone and nystatin to cure the infection. Applying the cream twice every day or as prescribed by the doctor may bring relief from discomfort.
How to Prevent Ringworms when Pregnant?
Maintaining good hygiene when pregnant can help prevent ringworms. Washing the infected skin with clean water and a disinfectant cleanser may help limit the spread of infection. Gently pat dry the skin. It is unwise to share clothing, towels, combs and other personal things. Pregnant women may try and avoid coming in physical contact with an infected person. Ringworm infection can also pass on to a pregnant woman from an infected animal or public places like a swimming pool or locker rooms as the fungi thrive in moist places. So its best to avoid such places while pregnant.
The fungal infection is usually self-treatable. However, in case, a pregnant woman contracts the ringworm infection it is sensible to seek a medical diagnosis for the condition. Other than causing irritation and discomfort ringworm during pregnancy is unlikely to produce any other negative effect on the pregnancy.
Also Read: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) during Pregnancy
Decontaminating The Environment
You know how they say “Prevention is better than cure”? Well, that is true in almost any walk of life and is applicable to not only humans but also to our pets. Ringworm infections are caused due to fungal contamination of the fur or the hair of the dog and then sits inside the skin of the animal. You can see them evidently on the skin as red bald patches which are scaly on the boundaries. The worst thing about ringworm is that it is highly contagious. It can spread from animal to human and the other way round too. In the case of dogs, they can very easily infect small kids. So if you have a little kid in your house who absolutely adores the dog, it might pose a huge threat to their health. So the best thing to do right after your dog is diagnosed with the ringworm is to decontaminate everything that your dog may have touched in the past few weeks.
At this point, you need to categorize your possessions according to the way that you have to clean them. Here are a few tips for cleaning and preventing the infection from spreading.
- All hard and not porous surfaces should be cleaned using bleach. Dilute one part of it in 10 parts of water. Use this to clean the floors, walls, kitchen and table tops, plumbing, frames and sills of the windows, etc.
- Take out the vacuum cleaner and begin cleaning the fabrics, like your carpets, upholstery, rugs, sofas, and curtains. Vacuum these at least once a day and immediately discard the garbage collecting vacuum bag. If you use the vacuum cleaner with a cleaning canister, then clean them using a bleach mixture same as above.
- Beds of your dog or pets should be cleaned with the hottest water setting possible. Make sure that you wash them with bleach that is safe for different colors.
- Dogs have the habit of scratching themselves a lot, and so, some owners buy their dogs scratching posts so they can use these for itching places instead of using their paws and nails. And it is very natural for the ringworms to make your canine itchy. But these things can do more harm than good. They are basically the hub of all the ringworm spores and can be the initiator of an infection spree.
- Every dog has at least one toy that they can play with. And maybe sharing these toys is the reason that your pet caught the ringworm. Or maybe your dog already has the infection and leaves the toys lying on the floor. That is a dreadful situation, and to avoid this, soak the toys for about 15 minutes in the bleach and water mix as mentioned above. Do not discard toys simply because they cannot be soaked.
- The spores can also travel through air and so you should also try changing heater and air conditioning vents.
- Do not leave your dog alone with other dogs. There is a great chance that it may contract the infection from other dogs. Also, set up a regular checkup of your pet with the veterinarian, so you are updated with every change in state of their health.
- A dog who is stressed or has a compromised immune system runs a significant risk of contracting ringworm too. So make sure that your dog’s immune system is up, and they are not stressed because of anything.
- Do not ever give your pet in a dog shelter without ensuring that they have separate services and quarters for every pet.
- In the case of confirmed diagnosis, fosters should be restricted to a separate room or a crate to avoid the spores from spreading in the house.
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If you ever see any of the symptoms of the ringworm on your dog, take it to the vet at the earliest possible for the sake of their health and your own too. Treatment for ringworms in dogs usually follows two categories. In minor cases, the doctor will only tell you to take proper care and recommend topical medicines. But if they are in bad shape, it might require ingestion of drugs. In any case, proper care and treatment is a must to fully cure and relieve your dog of the discomfort that comes with the ringworm infection, as soon as possible.