Ringworm can be tracked back to at least the 1800s when very little had been discovered about the disease or the treatment of the disease. It was thought that ringworm was caused by a worm; which is how it got its name; however, we now know that it is actually caused by a fungal infection that is sometimes shaped like a ring or might show up in the form of a rash.
The condition can be found on humans and can also affect domesticated animals like dogs, sheep, and cats. For humans, the fungus will generally grow in the folds of the skin; while on animals it can occur on any part of the skin and can be present in the hair of animals. The fungi that create the parasitic infection get their nourishment from keratin which is located in the outer layer of your skin, nails and hair. These fungi flourish on skin that is moist and warm, but can also live directly on the outside of the hair.
Although the disease was around for a long time, most of the more serious studies were not conducted on ringworm until men in the military began to get it during World War II. The humid conditions in the South Pacific were largely responsible for the soldiers contracting the condition. In the 1900s doctors used mercury compounds or iodine and sulfur to help treat the ringworm condition in people. However, there are now prescription and over the counter anti-fungal creams that can help to treat ringworm.
Ringworm is extremely contagious and can be transferred to others if proper precautions are not taken. The fungi that causes ringworm thrives in places that are humid and warm and once a person contracts it they can continue to pass it on to others through wet towels, locker rooms, etc.