Ringworm – Don’t Panic

Although the name suggests otherwise, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm at all, but a fungus that can infect the skin, hair and nails. Not uncommon in cats, this highly contagious disease can lead to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. It often spreads to other pets In the household and to humans, too. It is NOT deadly, just more of a nuisance.

What Are the General symptoms of Ringworm?

Classic symptoms of ringworm in cats include dry, flaky, scabby skin that typically appear on the head, ears and forelimbs. Ringworm can cause flaky bald patches that sometimes look red in the center. In mild cases, there may be localized areas of redness or simply dandruff, while more severe infections can spread over a cat’s entire body. It’s also possible for a pet to carry ringworm spores
and not show any symptoms whatsoever. On a person, the spot is red, sometimes showing as a raised ring. It will be very itchy, very similar to poison ivy/oak.

How Do Cats Get Ringworm?

A cat can get ringworm directly through contact with an infected animal-or indirectly through contact with bedding, dishes and other materials that have been contaminated with the skin cells or hairs of infected animals. Ringworm spores are notoriously hardy and can survive in the environment for more than a year! Lysol spray, bleach and sunlight are great killers of the fungus.

How Is Ringworm Treated?

Treatment of ringworm depends on the severity of the infection. There are anti-fungal medicated shampoos easily bought over the counter and on Amazon. We have also found that Monistat 7 cream (or the generic version) has cut the treatment time in half! Apply it liberally to the spots twice a day until the hair has grown back and the skin is no longer flaky. Bathe a couple times a week for the same duration. If you have caught it from your cat, don’t panic. Put some on the cream on the spot and cover it with a band-aide. It should be almost gone in a few days.

What Can Happen If Ringworm Is Left Untreated?

If a cat with ringworm is not properly treated, the lesions can spread over large areas of the animal’s body, causing hair loss and skin infections.

How Can I Prevent Ringworm from Spreading?

• Bathe all pets in the household with a medicated rinse or shampoo.
• Wash the infected animals’ bedding and toys with a disinfectant that kills ringworm spores.
• Use Lysol disinfectant spray heavily on anything that can’t be washed (furniture, cat trees, etc.)*
• Frequently vacuum to rid the house of infected hairs and skin cells. (Yes, the fungus can survive on hair and skin that your cat sheds!)
*Phenol can be toxic to pets. Most Lysol products in the US no longer contain phenols due to so many people having pets in their homes. However, you still may find the occasional Lysol product with phenols, especially if you live outside of the US. Because of this, we always suggest reviewing the ingredient list closely to be sure. Please do not spray Lysol on or around your pet and do not allow them access to any surface sprayed with Lysol until it is dried.

**As a common sense precaution, it is a smart idea to thoroughly wash your hands after you bathe or touch your cat.**

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