When my young adult daughter arrived home after a modeling job in the Caribbean, she was concerned about a strange, circular sore growing on her forehead and asked Dr. Mom what I thought of the growing blemish. Immediately I recognized the circle, because I’d manifested similar spots the prior year.

Despite my rule banning non-human household residents, I was grandmother to two cats. After my oldest son smuggled a homeless infant feline into our dwelling when I was away on business, my younger son couldn’t survive without a feline of his own. The second cat was the curse of my existence.

While I bonded immediately with Cleopatra, the Chocolate Point Siamese, and spent endless hours snuggling her tiny furry self against my neck, she in turn bestowed upon me a lasting gift – ringworm. How was I to know that cats are particularly susceptible to ringworm?

Ringworm isn’t a worm – it’s a fungus infection that manifests on the skin and resembles a curled-up worm upon close viewing. The infection easily spreads via human and animal contact. All three types of ringworm fungi thrive in moisture and can be contracted from public swimming areas or public showers, especially if you have a scrape on your skin.

We unknowingly bought a purebred cat infected with ringworm. After snuggling with her, I developed a pinkish circular spot on my neck and, within a few days, a similar spot on my jaw. Because they itched a bit and looked somewhat round and red, I misidentified them as insect bites and applied calamine lotion to relieve itching. But when the spots didn’t clear and appeared to actually be growing, I became alarmed and googled itchy skin blemishes. There it was, plain as day – ringworm!

Fifteen years ago, I didn’t understand the crucial role probiotics play in maintaining the body’s healthy bacteria. I ran to the drugstore for a topical antifungal and treated my spots successfully – or so I thought. The stubborn skin spots eventually disappeared, and the following year, when my daughter brought home a forehead fungus, I recommended the same treatment.

Meanwhile I didn’t make the connection between the cat and my ringworm, until a month later when Cleopatra suddenly began losing large chunks of fur. Our kitten was balding before my eyes, and in a panic I phoned the vet, who diagnosed an advanced case of ringworm. Using powerful prescription antifungal drugs (dangerous for such a young kitten), it was almost three months before we got the infection under control and Cleo’s fur started growing back.

We all lived happily ever after, until a couple years ago when a strange itchy patch appeared overnight on my forearm. The patch resembled poison ivy, an antigen to which I’d become highly sensitized as a child after dozens of encounters in nearby woods. But I was puzzled, as I’d already been desensitized homeopathically. Again I treated it with calamine (make your own recipe) for a few days before realizing it was growing, and upon closer inspection, discovered it was ringworm – AGAIN!

It didn’t take long to determine that this wasn’t contact ringworm – it was internal. I’d been recently adding alkalizing drops to drinking water (preventive medicine, since cancer can’t survive in an alkaline PH balance) and, though the instructions specifically warned against using more than the recommended three drops to avoid over-alkalizing, I exceeded the daily recommended dosage a bit (for good measure). Inadvertently I’d swung my PH balance from acidic to excessively alkaline, and in doing so, created ideal conditions for a latent internal fungus to thrive, which manifested on my skin. The ringworm fungus I thought I’d killed a dozen years prior with skin ointment was living all that time inside my body.

Natural remedies for ringworm

I raced to the healthfood store (no drug store this time) and bought probiotic capsules. Not only did I megadose with capsule ingestion, I also opened some capsules and made probiotic paste to apply to my skin. Within a day, the infection was disappearing, but I continued internal treatment for a full month to rid my body of whatever trace of fungus might have lingered.

A year later, my daughter suffered a similar fate with greater complications. She’d forever dreamed of working at a Florida horse ranch and miraculously landed a highly desired job at a stable – home to some of the finest thoroughbred racers. Her favorite part of the job was close contact with the magnificent creatures – washing them, washing their stalls daily, etc. Water everywhere created a serious problem though, in that the inside of her rubber boots were always damp. Within two weeks she’d developed a rash on both ankles, and a week later both were covered in blotchy red, itchy skin. She phoned me, quite concerned that she might need to see a dermatologist.

After emailing me a photo of her ankles, I identified massive ringworm fungus spreading quickly, and advised her to immediately obtain probiotic capsules and triple the recommended daily dose. I also told her it was imperative she keep her ankles totally dry and protect them from any moisture. While probiotics succeeded in harnessing the fungus, it was impossible for my daughter to continue working at the stable and stay dry. That particular dream had to end, for the sake of her health.

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