Ringworm is a fungus that often grows in warm, moist, damp areas. The fungal infection is caused by direct or indirect contact with the fungus. Ringworm is not actually a worm, but gets its name from the common red, ring-shaped sores that appear on the skin. The fungus is most commonly spread through person-to-person contact; however, it can also grow in soil, bark and grass. Ringworm in the lawn is easily transferred directly to humans and pets and indirectly when it contacts other items that are later brought into the house.
Ringworm infestations in the lawn are not visible and the only way to know if an area is infested is by the appearance of ringworm on people, particularly children, and pets. Ringworm also appears on feet as athlete’s foot or on the toenails and fingernails as evident by thickened, discolored and brittle nails. Body ringworm can be picked up and transmitted from the grass to various parts of the body and are usually noticeable within four to 10 days of exposure.
Cut the grass as short as possible, rake up and discard the grass clippings in a yard waste bin, and allow the yard to dry out as much as possible. Purchase and apply a dry or liquid lawn fungicide according to the package directions. Make your own natural lawn fungicide by mixing one part milk with nine parts water or two pureed garlic cloves per gallon of water and spray the lawn twice per week. Other commercially produced natural and chemical fungicides are available. Choose one that specifically targets ringworm as others may not be as effective.
There is no one, single method that can guarantee a completely ringworm-free yard; however, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk. Avoid over-watering the lawn and keep it cut short since ringworm likes damp, dark places. Periodically sprinkling the lawn with an antifungal fertilizer or pesticide may discourage ringworm growth before it becomes a problem.
Ringworm growth in the lawn is not entirely preventable; however, there are steps you can take to help prevent spreading it to family members and pets. The best prevention method is to have children and adults wash their hands after playing or working outdoors in the lawn or garden. Avoid walking barefoot through the lawn and remove shoes after coming indoors. Bath pets regularly, especially after they have been rolling around in the grass.
- Beyond Pesticides: Get Your Lawn Off Drugs
- Directors of Health Promotion and Education: Ringworm Facts
- "Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child"; Janet Zand, LAc OMD, Rachel Walton MD, Bob Rountree MD; 1994
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A Balch, CNC and James F Balch, MD; 2000
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