How to prevent ringworm reinfection?
December 1, 2007 11:43 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend has apparently caught a little ringworm. HELP!

My girlfriend and I went to a kitten fair. After we had nuzzled with a particular kitten for about thirty minutes, we were informed that, while the kitten himself was ringworm-negative, it had been undergoing treatment for ringworm and that it had been taking sulfur-lime baths to kill the spores. We went home, cleaned what could be cleaned of our laundry (our coats and sundries couldn't exactly be thrown in the dryer).

Two weeks later, my girlfriend has a small red circle on her abdomen, and it looks an awful lot like ringworm. Oops. She's taking anti-fungal medication now, but what should we do about our apartment and our clothes? Should we dry clean every item of clothing we had worn that day, which could not be thrown in the dryer? How can we prevent reinfection without burning down our entire complex? What should I do about myself or about our cat - neither of us has symptoms now, but who knows?
posted by Sticherbeast to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, also, about our clothing which can't be dried on high heat - would freezing work to kill spores?
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:44 AM on December 1, 2007

My now-husband's then-roommate had ringworm once, and was too silly know what it was. We vacuumed the couch and sprayed stuff down with lysol disinfectant spray, used bleach where we could, and neither of us got the infection.

Drycleaning your coats and things would probably not hurt anything, and would probably make you feel better. It was warm when the Lord of the Rings realized that he had an itchy problem, so we did not have to deal with coats.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:07 PM on December 1, 2007

I have caught it from somewhere maybe twice in the last 25 years, and never worried about clothing, furniture to which it may have spread. Nobody in my family got it subsequent to my infections. I would not do anything beyond normal cleanliness.
posted by beagle at 12:15 PM on December 1, 2007

I'm not 100% on this, but when I was a kid and got ringworm from my aunt's cat, I just had medication. It's not like lice, where you gotta clean everything. Just don't rub yourself on her or you'll get it too.
posted by Anonymous at 12:42 PM on December 1, 2007

I used to catch RW a lot working in an animal shelter. I just used an OTC anti-fungal cream, never took any special precautions with laundry. It clears up pretty quickly.
posted by GilloD at 1:21 PM on December 1, 2007

Best answer: My kitten had ringworm earlier in the year. We didn't notice until it was reasonably bad, about two weeks after we got her, by which time she'd been all over the house. I did quite a lot of reading and talking to the vet about detoxing the place because it's just not practical to wash all the wool blankets at once in the coldest part of winter when you only have one set because the result is no bedding for several days while it dries. My cat-specialist vet pointed out that ringworm spores are all over the place in the environment anyway, in the dirt and dust outside and tracked into your house and just generally everywhere. So washing everything is a bit pointless since it was covered in spores already.

The main reason rescue kittens tend to get it is that their immune systems are too weak to cope, not so much that they have greater exposure to spores somehow. Healthy adult people and adult cats are a lot less likely to catch it (particularly if they've had it before). Note that your girlfriend only had one small lesion after two weeks whereas my kitten had several spread over much of her body at that point (they all showed up at once when the fur fell out, making us feel very bad!), and you didn't catch it at all.

As an aside, the anti-fungals don't actually kill the ringworm, just stop it dividing and growing while your own immune system fights it off. This is why the immune system thing is so important, that's actually how you fight the infection. If you have cats or people around you who are immune compromised in some way then yeah, go all out to wash anything exposed (including everything your girlfriend has touched since), otherwise what you've already done is fine.

Lastly ringworm has a seven to ten day incubation period, so if you or your cat were going to get it it would have shown up already after two weeks. Cats generally get it on feet, face and tail, so those are the places to look to double check. But if there's nothing there now it's all fine.

Short answer: don't fret, you did everything right already.
posted by shelleycat at 1:24 PM on December 1, 2007

Agreeing that you are all set. Drycleaning coats is probably not strictly necessary but not a bad idea either. When I caught ringworm (from... someplace?) I took medicine for it, washed all my bedding and clothes that I had worn in the last few weeks and called it a day and did not have additional problems. Shelleycat has it right, it's not bedbugs or lice where you have to kill Every Last One.
posted by jessamyn at 2:16 PM on December 1, 2007

Had it a few times, never thought about clothing. Lotrimin Ultra works for me. Never given it to family members or the wife. When it says 4 weeks though, use it FOUR weeks.

I had a nasty one on my upper neck, got it from a cheap barber. Don't go to cheap barbers.
posted by M Edward at 4:09 PM on December 1, 2007

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