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Gem asked several interesting questions on the Ringworm post about how much “housekeeping” is safe and reasonable and what additional steps could be taken for habitat ringworm. That is, if one does the usual steps to prevent the fungus and looks for the obvious culprits, what else can one prudently do?

I’m reluctant to offer any other suggestions as I am at the limit of my knowledge. A couple of things to keep in mind–

  • People are very large (micro)organisms. So what kills fungus, bacteria,  etc. will also disrupt the big stuff (us) with a large enough dose or frequent enough application  or mixed with something else. Much the way chemotherapy can be said to kill the cancer cells but just before it kills the body, there needs to be a careful balance between treatment and over-treatment.
  • Be sure you know what you are dealing with. Lots of conditions look similar but may have different causes and thus different treatments. For ringworm, I would rely on someone skilled in diagnosing different kinds of skin lesions.

I asked the veterinary Worms-and-germs folks http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/ to do a post or commentary here about ringworm but haven’t heard back, yet.

On topic and timely, Olympic ringsworm–

J&J Wins Favored Status By Curing Statue Fungus Woes
By JASON LEOW in Beijing and SHIRLEY S. WANG and KELLY CROW in New York
August 18, 2008; Page A16

Inside Olympian sneakers in Beijing surely rages a case or two of athlete’s foot.

But that fungus no longer plagues a handful of 2,000-year-old statues here, which explains why China lent the artifacts to the corporate pavilion of Johnson & Johnson. A maker of athlete’s foot cream for half a century, J&J helped rescue one of China’s most precious archaeological treasures from a damaging athlete’s-foot-like fungus.

“We know everything about fungus,” says Chong Siong Hin, a J&J executive.

… The statues are called terracotta warriors…

Upon Emperor Qin’s death, he and his warriors were sealed in his mausoleum and forgotten until 1974, when owners of a persimmon orchard discovered the site while digging a well.

Archaeologists hailed the terracotta warriors as the find of the century. But soon after they were unearthed, heat and humidity attracted tiny spores of tinea pedis and other types of fungus that attacked the clay statues. Fungi excrete acid that began corroding the relics….

About a decade later, J&J learned of the fungus problem and started to wage battle against it.

Never having fought fungus on nonhumans, J&J invested years and hundreds of thousands of dollars researching molds on clay tiles and flowerpots.

Museum officials sent chunks of terracotta to J&J’s laboratory outside Antwerp, Belgium, to test for organisms. Ultimately, J&J and Chinese scientists identified 60 different fungi growing on the statues, including a variation of athlete’s foot.

The identification of the fungus helped to lead to the development of some fungicides that are proving effective. […]


The mention of acid in the passage brings up an aspect of fungus habitat I haven’t read about– pH of the skin surface. I suppose it might be worth daubing on Milk of Magnesia as a counterbalance (this was supposed to work to get rid of tomato blisters around the mouth, but I have NOT seen any demonstration that this in fact occurs). Does anyone have suggestions that are demonstrated safe and effective , please comment here.

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