Ringworm is a problem for pets and humans. People can spread ringworm to their pets, and pets can spread ringworm to humans, or other pets. Diagnosing ringworm and treating immediately are important.
What is Ringworm
Ringworm is not a worm at all, it is a fungus, as well it does not always form a ring like pattern. The correct name for ringworm is tinea.
Ringworm prefers to live on warm, dark, moist, areas of the skin. In humans, and horses, this is areas where sweat often builds up. In between toes is a common location for ringworm in cats and dogs. Some of the animals that are most commonly infected with ringworm (in addition to humans) are cats, dogs, guinea pigs,goats, horses, cattle, and pigs. Cats tend to be more prone to ringworm, and some may even be carriers without actually having ringworm patches on their skin, dogs who are infected nearly always show the patches on their skin.
Ringworm often, but not always, look like round areas on the skin where hair is missing. The affected area may be small, penny sized, or quite large. The skin itself sometimes looks a bit rough. Typically small pimples may appear and then the area may look scaly. The area may be itchy, which can cause open sores in the area. The veterinarian can do a proper diagnosis because there are other problems that could appear similar, such as mites, or hot spots.
Treatment of Ringworm in Pets
If your pet has been diagnosed as having ringworm the veterinarian probably gave you medication. There are many medications for ringworm, most are topical, killing the fungus on contact. There are some oral medications also available, but these are more likely to have side effects.
When treating topically it can be a good idea to trim the hair around the infected areas, some dog owners will trim the whole dog so they can find any developing spots – trimming also allows the sun to penetrate the skin better and help dry up the fungus. Be sure to disinfect the clippers afterwards.
It is important to use gloves when applying topical anti-fungal medication.
If treating a small pet, such as a guinea pig, its cage should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
For horses, all equipment, brushes, and blankets, should be considered as being contaminated, and be cleaned properly, ideally left in the sun as well, since sun does kill the fungus.
The best way to disinfect things that can be washed in the sink is to soak them in a bleach solution. Pet beds should be thrown away, or washed in a disinfecting detergent.
A bleach solution should be used to wash the home, the floors, walls, and so forth (or in the case of horses, should be used to wash the stall).
Neem oil when applied to the skin, has been shown to be effective at controlling ringworm.
It can take months before all traces of ringworm are gone.
Note that ringworm is most common in kittens, be sure to examine a new kitten before you bring it home – especially look that the feet and toes for any bald areas that may indicated ringworm.