Despite what its name suggests, ringworm is actually a fungal infection rather than a worm. Because of the circular lesions caused by a ringworm infection, the fungus was originally believed to be a worm. The name remains but today’s veterinarians understand that ringworm fungi live on the surface of the skin. Ringworm lesions are marked by dead skin and hair loss in the affected area.
You can identify ringworm in dogs by the presence of round, hairless lesions on the surface of your dog’s skin. Ringworm lesions in humans and dogs are not identical but regardless of the animal infected the lesions will grow if left untreated. Moreover, ringworm lesions are not perfectly round and as they grow they may become irregular in shape. As the infection progresses, ringworm fungi weaken the hair so it breaks off. Ringworm lesions are commonly found on a dog’s face, ears, tail, and paws. They are scaly and may be red, swollen, and itchy.
Transmission of ringworm occurs when there is direct contact with an infected animal. Moreover, ringworm can be passed between species. This means if your dog has ringworm other humans and pets are at risk for infection with the fungus. In fact, ringworm can also be contracted from farm animals and even with as little pet contact as petting. As such, it is very important to treat a ringworm infection before it has the opportunity to spread to new hosts.
Once ringworm has been diagnosed, you must decontaminate your home. One of the most effective methods is to use a 10% bleach mixture and wipe down all surfaces. Vacuum thoroughly and even consider having a professional carpet and upholstery cleaner come in to clean your carpets and furniture. In addition, you will need to seek veterinary treatment for your pets. Your doctor will recommend medication and possibly a shampoo treatment to kill the fungus and prevent future infections.
Ringworm is a relatively common fungal infection that affects the hair, skin, or nails of various animals including cats, dogs, and humans. In cats, ringworm is the most common cause of skin infections even though the condition is more common in dogs. Cats with ringworms sometimes develop skin lesions but the condition usually goes away on its own.
Ringworm is caused by various fungi, usually Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, or Trichophyton bacteria. Ringworms are spread when cats come in contact with infected animals or when fungus spores are shed by infected animals into your cat’ living environment. Spores can survive for up to 24 months so if you’ve had an infected animal in your home it is important to take preventative measures to ensure that your cat does not develop ring worms. Animal professionals need to be especially careful not to spread ringworm; fungal spores have been found in boarding facilities, on groomers’ equipment, and even in veterinary offices.
Cats with ringworms will often have skin lesions but there are other symptoms of ringworms as well. Classically, a small, round, hairless lesion may appear in an area and this lesion may have scaly skin. In other infections, ringworms may spread across the face of your cat and may appear as a more generalized skin infection.
In many cases, ringworms in cats are treated with a topical ointment which is applied directly to the infected skin lesion. Miconazole and thiabendazole are among the most common anti-fungal treatments used for cats but it is also important to ensure that your cat eats a healthy diet. In very severe cases of cat ringworms, a combination of oral and topical treatments may be necessary. Long-haired cats may need to be shaved to receive treatment but veterinarians often differ on this approach. Ringworms are not deadly but they can be transmitted easily so take any ringworm infection seriously.