Ringworm is not a worm – it is a fungus. It often assumes a ring-like, scaly, reddened shape on your pet’s skin.
Cats, especially longhaired cats, often have multiple ringworm sites on their bodies. It is most common in kittens. Dogs often have only a single lesion and, again, it is most common in puppies and immature dogs. Cats that recover from ringworm often remain carriers of the fungus with no external signs. Because it can transfer to humans, it is best to wear gloves when treating ringworm or playing with infected pets.
Signs of ringworm are typically circular patches of broken hair in ring-like whorles. Surrounding this darkened area is a band of inflamed, reddened skin within which the hair is also broken off short. The most common areas for ringworm to occur are the face, ear tips, tail and paws. When these areas are examined with an ultraviolet light source the broken hair shafts often fluoresce green.
How Your Pet Catches Ringworm:
Ringworm fungus does not penetrate normal skin. The fungus spores are passed into a scratch or scrape on the same or different animal. The usual source is a carrier pet that shows no signs of the disease. Not all pets in a household that are exposed to ringworm develop the disease. Some pets never become infected while others do become infected but develop no overt signs of the disease. Some of these animals go on to become silent carriers that spread the disease to others.
Most commonly your vet will take a small sample of hair from around the lesion and place it in a special growing medium. If the ringworm fungus is present it will show up on this test usually within 10-14 days. Sometimes an instant diagnosis can be made using an ultraviolet light but it may still be necessary to confirm the diagnosis by growing the fungus.
Treatment of Ringworm:
First, infected pets should be separated from those that show no evidence of the disease. Hoover your house and scrub down kennels to remove fungal spores. Throw away the hoover bag once you are finished. Be sure to wear gloves when you treat or handle infected pets so you don’t become infected or spread it to other pets.
General treatment revolves around anti fungal medication (syrup or tablets) and anti fungal shampoo.
A good antifungal disinfecting solution for about your home is a one in twenty solution of household bleach and water.