Ringworm- not actually worms in a ring

Why do cats make terrible storytellers? Because they only have one tail 

Say ringworm and people panic, imagining invasive worms that live under the skin and much worse. But, unlike its name, ringworm has nothing to do with worms at all. It is a common mold-like fungus skin infection otherwise known as tinea.

In humans, ringworm usually affects the skin on the body, the scalp, the feet (athlete’s foot), or the groin (jock itch).  The telltale sign is a red, scaly patch or rash that itches and is round – like a ring – which is likely how it got its name.  Other symptoms and signs of ringworm include patches of hair loss or scaling on the scalp, itching, and blister-like lesions. In animals, ringworm can be detected by hair loss, which is often crusty. This hair loss can occur anywhere on the body but commonly affects tails, paws and ears.

At an animal shelter, ringworm is extremely contagious and can be passed from animal to animal, animal to person and person to person. Because of this fact, far too many animals with ringworm entering shelters across the country are euthanized to prevent it from spreading like wildfire!

But that doesn’t have to happen, ringworm is treatable! In fact, ringworm is easily treated by applying a cream to the rash or, for animals, treating them with Sulphur dip.  In general, ringworm is no longer contagious after applying cream to the affected areas for 24-48 hours or dipping an animal 2-3 times in the span of a week. However, it may take up to four weeks for the animal to no longer test positive for the fungus.

In 2017, the Louisiana SPCA started an effort to improve the outlook for ringworm positive animals at their shelter. Now a Volunteer Ringworm Treatment Team treats animals suspected of or confirmed to have ringworm twice a week with Sulphur dip. Although Sulphur doesn’t smell great, it is an extremely safe and effective way for treating a wide range of skin diseases, including ringworm, successfully. We also have a special team of fosters who open their homes to animals with ringworm during treatment. Together, we have successfully treated hundreds of kittens, cats, puppies, dogs and rabbits, allowing them to eventually find their forever homes.

So what can you do to help us continue to save lives? Foster or donate so we can continue to treat animals with ringworm and reduce euthanasia to 0.

Cynthia Sarthou, Volunteer Ringworm Treatment Team at the Louisiana SPCA