Skin conditions can be embarrassing, if not downright alarming. Aside from being aesthetically unappealing, a rash or patch of bald scaly skin that doesn’t heal on its own could be the sign of an infection. In particular, a circular scaly area of skin filled with red bumps is the classic symptom of ringworm.
Although common, there is a strong stigma surrounding ringworm, and public understanding of the infection is muddied by the fact the infection is named similarly to the more serious and potentially life-threatening hookworm.
Understanding what ringworm is and the ringworm spores lifespan is the first step towards prevention and treatment of the skin rash. Let’s take look at the spore lifespan on hard surfaces, clothing, and skin.
How Long Does Ringworm Live on Surfaces?
Ringworm spores can live on any surface where dead skins cells are present which is literally, just about everywhere.
Most ringworm spores prefer a warm, moist environment which can allow the fungi spores to survive for 12 to 20 months, sometimes longer. A dry, hot surface will not be as conducive and the lifespan will be more like several months, maybe less.
So in the right environment the lifespan of ringworm spores is about a year and likely longer. In unfavorable conditions, count on several months.
Disinfecting Ringworm spores
Because ringworm fungus is relatively hearty, it’s important to disinfect any surfaces that an infected person or pet has come into contact with. Disinfecting a surface with an approved fungicidal disinfectant (link to ringworm killers) can kill spores that cause ringworm.
Natural remedies like apple cider vinegar might interfere with spore reproductive abilities, but it’s no way to eradicate the fungus in a chronically infected home.
How Long Does Ringworm Last on Clothes?
Spores that cause ringworm can live on dry clothing for several months and over a year on on damp clothing. In both settings, they’ll continue to produce more spores and grow. Because of this, it’s important to avoid washing an infected person’s clothing with the clothes of an uninfected person.
And when you do wash infected clothing, wash and dry on the hottest possible setting. It is also recommended to spritz or pre-soak clothing with a disinfectant capable of killing fungus.
So to recap, the lifespan of ringworm spores could be a year or longer in moist, favorable environments and several months in drier, less desirable locations.
How Long Does Ringworm Live on Skin?
With treatment, ringworm lifespan on skin is about 3 weeks (give or take). Secondary infections have a tendency to complicate the healing process and that is why it is always recommended to seek medical attention and get a professional diagnosis and the appropriate topical help or medications.
Without treatment, ringworm could eventually resolve. Not because it would die (necessarily) but it could be washed away with constant focus and attention to the area.
Treatment for Ringworm in Humans
Treatment for ringworm in humans includes home cleaning and disinfection, medicated creams, and prescribed medicine. Although the condition may heal on its own, it’s suggested you seek medical care. Oral medication and topical creams are common ways to get rid of ringworm. Treatment must be continued for 2-3 weeks, and reinfection must be diligently avoided.
Treatment for Ringworm in Pets
Treatment for ringworm in pets (in-house article) includes sulfur dips, shampoos, and pet friendly sprays. It’s important to clean the pet’s environment and bedding to prevent re-infection.
Summing Up Ringworm Spores Lifespan
Although the name of the ringworm infection may evoke images of a slimy little worm burrowing just underneath your skin, the condition is far less horrifying. As long as you are diligent, you will overcome ringworm infection in yourself, a child, or pet.
The spores can live years in moist situations and several months in drier environments. Treatments are meant to dry out the spores and kill them. This process takes several weeks, be patient and diligent.