What Is Ringworm And What Causes It?

What Is Ringworm? 

Ringworm is a fungal infection that invades the hair and hair follicles. Most cases are caused by Microsporum canis. Ringworm in dogs is primarily a disease of puppies and young adults. Typical areas of involvement are the face, ears, paws, and tail.

What Does Ringworm Look Like?

In dogs, the fungi commonly infect hair follicles, which causes the affected hair shafts to break off at the skin line resulting in round patches of hair loss. Ringworm takes its name from its classic appearance: a spreading circle of hair loss with scaly skin at the center and a red ring at the periphery. Note, however, that many cases of circular hair loss thought to be ringworm are actually localized demodectic mange or hair follicle infection. Black fly bites in the groin area in the spring will also have this ringed appearance. Atypical ringworm is common, with irregular areas of hair loss associated with scaling and crusting. Ringworm by itself is not an itchy skin condition, but secondary bacterial infection with scabs and crusts can provoke licking and scratching. Ringworm can invade the nails. This results in nails that are dry, cracked, brittle, and deformed.

What Causes Ringworm?

Ringworm is transmitted by spores in the soil and by contact with the infected hair of dogs and cats, typically found on carpets, brushes, combs, toys, and furniture. Humans can acquire ringworm from pets, and vice versa. Children are especially susceptible.

How To Treat Ringworm?

Although mild cases resolve spontaneously in three to four months, all cases of ringworm should be treated to prevent progression and spread to other pets and people in the household.

With only one or two areas of involvement, apply a topical antifungal agent containing miconazole 2 percent cream or 1 percent lotion twice a day in the direction of the lay of the hair. Continue treatment until the skin is healed. Be ready to treat the dog for at least four to six weeks.

When several sites are involved, repeat the treatment just described, and add an antifungal shampoo containing miconazole or another shampoo labeled for the treatment of ringworm. Continue to treat for two weeks beyond apparent cure. Longhaired dogs may need to be shaved for effective

How To Prevent?

Ringworm spores can survive for up to one year and should be eliminated from the environment. Discard the dog’s bedding. Sterilize grooming equipment in a 1:10 dilution of bleach. Vacuum the carpets at least weekly to remove infected hair. Mop and wash hard surfaces (floors, counter-tops, dog runs) using diluted bleach. Technical Captan can be used as a spray in a dilution of 1:200 in water to treat a kennel.

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