Ringworm at a Glance - Everything You Need to Know
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a fungal infection caused by several types of fungus. In humans, the ringworm fungi can also cause other types of infections including athlete’s foot and jock itch.
Is Ringworm Dangerous?
A ringworm infection is superficial and only affects the outermost layers of skin as well as the nails and hair follicles. However, while it is not life threatening, ringworm is extremely contagious and can easily be passed to other pets as well as humans. Ringworm spreads easily between people and animals and thrives in warm, damp environments.
How Easy Is It To Spot Ringworm?
A ringworm infection can present in a variety of ways, since the fungi that cause ringworm love keratin, the protein that's present in skin, nails as well as hair. Because ringworm may not show up with the same severity in every animal, an infection may be difficult to detect early on. In addition, both dogs and cats can be asymptomatic carriers of ringworm, which means that you or other pets in your household can become infected and re-infected seemingly out of nowhere. Similarly, because animals may not show symptoms of an infection, pets in shelters, pet daycares or in kennel care are at higher risk of developing a ringworm infection.
What Does Ringworm Look Like?
Ringworm in humans can show up in various ways, however, it's very common for people to develop a red circular rash that's itchy and raised.
Because ringworm infects the hair shaft, one common symptom of an infection in a cat or dog is hair loss. Lesions that develop on pets from a ringworm infection are usually not itchy, so you may not notice a problem until it becomes more severe. You'll commonly find ringworm lesions on the ridge of the back, the front legs, the head and the chest, so a regular thorough check while bathing or grooming is recommended.
Additionally, ringworm may develop on the nails, causing onychomycosis. Signs of onychomycosis are extremely brittle nails, nail deformities and redness. Onychomycosis causes discomfort when walking and you'll find your pet frequently licking their paws.
Both humans and their pets must receive proper treatment in order to combat ringworm; without treatment, a fungal infection will not disappear and will continue to spread.
If you suspect your pet has contracted ringworm, be sure to look out for some of these telltale signs:
- Dandruff-like patches
- Brittle or misshapen nails
- Circular patches of hair loss
- Inflammation of skin and nail folds
- Red lesions that are scaly, crusting and raised
How Does Ringworm Spread?
In order for ringworm to spread, a person or animal must come into direct contact with the fungus. However, that's easier said than done, since fungal spores can remain dormant for many months on bedding, carpet and other surfaces.
Is Ringworm Preventable?
Because ringworm can lie dormant for considerable periods of time, proper environmental cleaning is essential for prevention. Ringworm can be transmitted when hair and microscopic particles have a chance to remain on carpet, bedding, furniture, clothing and more, so in order to prevent infections, be sure to clean your home regularly - and even more so if you are currently in the process of treating an outbreak.
- Regularly clean hairs from your pet’s brush
- Wash bedding often using warm water and soap
- Wear disposable gloves when handling infected pets
- Wash skin and clothing after handling infected pets
- Vacuum furniture and rugs, ensuring not to neglect hard to reach areas
- Wipe down surfaces; dilute bleach 1:10 and use the solution where possible
How Is Ringworm Treated
A proper medical diagnosis is necessary in order to tackle ringworm with the most appropriate medications. Ringworm can be treated with topical ointments, creams and shampoos but it can take several weeks to months to completely eradicate an infection. Topical ringworm treatments can be paired with oral medications, a common approach is the infection is severe and widespread.
If the infection is extensive, a shorter haircut may also be recommended by your vet, however, you should be careful not to make this an immediate go-to option since clipping hair can cause tiny cuts that may help to spread ringworm even further.
Treatments take time, and just because your pet is being treated doesn't mean they're no longer contagious. Therefore, you may want to consider restricting your pet's access in the home temporarily. Restricting their access to easy to clean areas will help you to save time and make additional transmission to other pets and humans less probable.
How Does Medi-Vet Help?
Our mission is to provide quality, veterinary labeled medications at discounted prices to serve veterinary clinics and you. We carry a range of affordable treatments for ringworm infections including miconazole nitrate, chlorhexidine gluconate, chloroxylenol, sulfurated lime solutions and natural products.