Despite the name, ringworm is caused not by a worm but a parasitic fungi (Dermatophytosis). Ringworm is a contagious skin disease spread through direct contact with an infected animal or indirect contact from spores that fall into the environment.
How is it treated?
Oral antifungal drugs are used to kill or inhibit the growth of the ringworm infection inside the hair follicle. There are several different drugs available for use. The most commonly used drugs include itraconazole, terbinafine, fluconazole, and griseofulvin.
Clipping the hair coat mechanically removes infected hairs and spores. Clipping will help minimize contamination of the environment. Although always “ideal”, clipping is not always needed. Some situations where it is strongly recommended include pets with long hair, pets with servere infections, pets that are not responding to treatment, and pets that share a home with a person or child who has a serious illness.
Cleaning the Animal
Lime sulfur, miconazole-chlorhexidine or enilconazole are the only topical antifungal rinses that have been shown to be consistently antifungal.
Cleaning the Indoor Environment
Just as in flea infestations where eggs and fleas are shed into the environment, pets with ringworm infections will shed infective hairs and spores into the environment. Infective spores are small dust-size particles. The following will minimize spread of potentially infective spores.
- Removal of infective hairs by clipping
- Use of lime sulfur as a topical antifungal rinse. It is quickly sporocidal.
- confinement of the infected pet to one easily cleaned room in the home. Remove clutter from room and keep closets closed. Discard contaminated toys and wash bedding daily.
- Routine cleaning of home daily and use of the triple cleaning technique (see below) once weekly. This technique was found to control infections in homes with infected cats and to be very successful in decontaminating homes once pets were cured.
Triple Cleaning Technique
Remove gross contamination by vacuuming the area three times followed by washing the area with a detergent safe to use around cats. Wash area three times. Apply a 1:10 dilution of bleach to non-porous areas.