Oh, the joys of contagious skin diseases. If you’ve never had contact with this next topic, you are one lucky bug! Good news is that it’s not typically a permanent issue. It tends to be a little hitch in the road.
Ringworm is a common term for dermatophytosis. What that means is a fungal infection within the skin. It is not an actual worm, so it is a very misleading name! Dogs and cat can be affected by it and is considered zoonotic (contagious between species including humans). Kittens tend to be a large culprit for outbreaks. They don’t even need obvious lesions!
How does it look? Ringworm can affect hair, claws, and skin. In dogs and cats, it typically causes alopecia (hair loss) with a scaly appearance and broken hairs. It can be just one lesion or generalized. The most common sites are the face, ears tips, feet, and tail.
How’s it spread? Typically through contact with infected animals or contaminated objects. This includes bedding, furniture, or grooming tools. The good news, contact does not always results in disease. Infection depends on age, species of fungus, other health conditions, nutrition, grooming behavior, and condition of exposed skin. All this works for us humans as well.
How is it diagnosed? The best route is fungal culture, but you can also use a Wood’s lamp (ultraviolet light) and direct microscope examination of skin/hair. Fungal cultures can take up to 2 weeks for results, so the microscopic exam/wood’s lamp are good initial diagnostics. Unfortunately, not all strains of dermatophytes will fluoresce with the Wood’s lamp, so that is something to keep in mind.
How is it treated? Typically, medicated baths or lime sulfur dips (STINKY!) are done weekly. Also, for more severe infections, an oral medication is also prescribed. Treatment is continued until full hair growth resumes in all locations. It is also very important to frequently clean and wash all objects that may be contaminated. If possible, a dilute water and bleach mixture can be used (but be careful where you spray it!).
Don’t worry guys, if you’ve been affected, you are not alone! Been there done that too!