A lot of pet parents are tempted to lump ringworm in the same category as tapeworms, whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms. But, despite its name, ringworm isn’t a parasite at all. It’s a fungus. Found all over the world, ringworm affects almost all species of domesticated animals, including dogs and cats. Even humans can get ringworm because it’s what’s called a zoonotic, which is an infection that can cross the animal-human species barrier. Because ringworm is so common, it’s important that us pet lovers know the signs of, the risk factors for, and the treatment options available for it.
What Exactly Is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a fungal infection that occurs in the top layer of an animal’s skin. Where the infection occurs often determines what treatment is prescribed. It’s easily identified by the red circular rash it leaves on the epidermis. In dogs and cats, this infection is often characterized by hair loss, inflamed paws, and mild itching. Ringworm of the body, also called tinea corporis, is a close relative of the fungi that causes jock itch, and athlete’s foot.
Why Should We be Concerned About Ringworm?
First things first: ringworm isn’t life-threatening. It will also never get us—or our pets—on an episode of Untold Stories of the ER. It is, however, highly contagious and easily passed between cats, dogs, and humans. All it needs to spread is a little skin-to-skin contact with enough time before washing for it to settle in. If someone handles an infected kitten, for example, they won’t catch ringworm unless they go without washing their hands for an extended period of time, just like any other fungus.
As it’s difficult to exterminate once it spreads, it’s vital that we catch the infection early on. To ensure we don’t end up on a merry-go-round of fungal infections, we can always preemptively apply an all-natural ringworm solution, like EcoRingworm, or contact our vet when we notice our pet displaying the following symptoms:
- A circular pattern of hair loss or raised ring of skin
- Scabby, swollen, red, inflamed skin
- Red or pink paw pads or webbing
- Dry, brittle fur
- Rough, easily broken claws
Inflamed skin, changes in coat, and sudden hair loss can also be symptoms of other, more serious conditions including hypothyroidism, nutrient deficiencies, and Cushing’s disease, so if the symptoms are persistent, visit the vet sooner rather than later.
Treatment of Ringworm in Cats and Dogs
Diagnosing ringworm often starts with a physical exam. During this exam, the vet will take a hair or skin sample and perform a fungal culture. Because ringworm is so common, many vets, shelters, and even pet supply stores will have an ultraviolet light on-hand. They are called a Wood’s lamp and are used to examine areas suspected of infection. If the fungus is present but has not caused obvious symptoms yet, it will fluoresce under the light. The treatment can depend on the number of animals in the home, the seriousness of the infection, and whether or not there are children or immunocompromised adults at risk of exposure.
Treatments and remedies tend to come in one of three varieties:
- Oral Medication: often prescribed alongside a cream or lotion. The pills or drops will often be given in six-week chunks. At the end of each period, vets will take another hair or skin sample for testing. Common medications in this category include ketoconazole and itrafungol.
- Topical Therapies: While garlic extract and some oils have had limited success in treating ringworm, there are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription treatments available. Included amongst these are a wide array of shampoos and EcoRingworm spray. It’s formulated to be a safe, powerful, fast-acting, all-natural defense against ringworm. Plus, it’s covered by a 100-percent money back guarantee.
- Environmental Decontamination: The spores inside contaminated follicles can remain active for months at a time, making it difficult to end the cycle of reinfecting the household if we don’t clean and decontaminate. Cleaning up this hair can be a challenge—as all dog guardians know. Clean all contaminated spaces with a vacuum, broom, or antifungal spray. All affected fabrics should also be thrown in the washer or dryer as soon as possible. If it’s infected and disposable, just throw it away.
Preventing Ringworm Infections
Fungus infections like ringworm do best in warm, humid environments. Many people don’t realize that ringworm is a year-round fungus. Many regions of the US have cold, snowy winters, which can help minimize the spread of the fungus. However, it thrives in warm environments, which can mean socks and shoes that haven’t been decontaminated, saunas, restrooms and pool areas, and more. While we can’t control the weather—or keep fungus from the soil— we can control our immediate indoor environment. There are a few things we can do to keep ringworm at bay. These include:
- Regularly cleaning our pet’s bedding and any blankets they regularly use
- Disposing of any shed pet hair as quickly as possible
- Vacuuming on a semi-regular basis to ensure there are no leftover spores
- Disinfecting areas where our pet sleeps or eats
Though they may not eliminate the risk entirely, those items will make it a lot harder for ringworm to spread from our fur babies to ourselves. Now that we know the symptoms of ringworm, how to treat infections and ways to prevent infections from spreading, we can concentrate on maintaining a healthy, clean environment to minimize risk and avoid infection altogether. While there are a variety of treatment options available, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend EcoRingworm as your go-to remedy. It’s formulated as a powerful, all-natural solution, and it works fast.
- “Ringworm in Dogs - Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention,” AKC American Kennel Club
- “Don’t Let Ringworm Run Rings Around Your Veterinary Patients,” DVM360
- “How Ringworm is Treated,” VeryWell Health
- “Ringworm Risk and Prevention,” CDC