A very common skin disease affecting dogs and cats is ringworm. It sounds like this would be a parasite, right? Wrong! Actually, it is not a worm at all, as its name might suggest. It is a fungal infection which lives on the outer layer of the hair, skin and nails. It is found in hot, humid climates, occurring most often in the fall and winter months.
Ringworm is characterized by itchy, bald patches which are crusty, scaly and have a moldy odor. Pimples and bumps may surround these lesions. After exposure, it rapidly spreads in a circle, thus the name, ringworm. It may first be seen as a few patches on the face, neck, ear tips, tail, and feet. If not treated promptly, these lesions may spread over the entire body – not exactly a pleasant thought!
Diagnosis can be made by your veterinarian who will examine skin flakes under a microscope or by using an ultraviolet woods lamp. This will show bright fluorescent areas.
Ringworm is transmitted by contact with an infected animal or object such as furniture or grooming tools. It is highly contagious and can spread like wildfire between cats, dogs, and yes, even humans. Yikes! All bedding should be washed with a strong bleach solution, and disinfect all grooming tools after use. Wash your hands frequently with a good antibacterial soap.
Isolation from all his pals – and you – is a must. This means “cool the cuddlin’”, until you have these “unfamiliar rings” under control.
Sick, weak, or stressed pets seem to be most susceptible. Good nutrition and regular grooming will help fight this skin disease. It can run its course (usually 1-2 months) but why wait it out when you can relieve symptoms quickly with any of the following over-the-counter or simple, inexpensive home remedies. Let’s check out a few.
First and foremost, start by carefully trimming a wide margin of hair around the lesion.
Next, bathe your buddy with a good antibacterial/antifungal shampoo. Use tepid water, lather well, and let set for 15 minutes. Rinse. Air dry, then try any of the following treatments that you may readily have on hand:
Dab lesion with:
Real Lemon 2X daily
Apple Cider Vinegar 3X daily
Listerine 2X daily
Coconut oil 2X daily
Aloe Vera 2X daily
Antifungal creams such as Tinactin work well or try Chlorhexidine, Sulvasan solution, Betadine skin cleanser, tea tree oil, Sulfadine spray or NuStock. Essential oils by Young Living are very helpful – you can try oregano, lemongrass, clove, or myrtle.
My guess is that you found at least one or more of these common household products in your pantry or medicine cabinet.
Remember – if you have tried the above remedies with no success or if the lesion becomes red with weepy sores, it’s time to Get To The Vet – Pronto! Do not wait, antibiotics or a strong oral antifungal medicine, Fulvicin, will be necessary.
Play it safe, use precautions, so as not to spread that “unfamiliar ring”.