What Kills Ringworm in Cats?

Ringworm is a fungus that afflicts animals and humans, though the symptoms look different in different species. In a cat, ringworm causes hair loss in irregular shapes, especially on its legs and face. Once your vet has diagnosed your cat as having ringworm, she may suggest different treatments to try simultaneously or one after the other.

Your vet might prescribe an anti-fungal solution containing miconazole or clotrimazole, or you can use an over-the-counter ringworm product that contains enilconazole or concentrated lime-sulfur. The fungal spores that cause ringworm can live in your house for up to 18 months, re-infecting your cat, you or other pets.

Spray benzalkonium chloride on any areas your cat frequents, including its bedding and toys, furniture, your sheets and clothes. Otherwise, repeat the treatment once a month for preventive purposes, or follow the instructions of your veterinarian. If your cat’s ringworm is severe, your vet might prescribe griseofulvin, which comes in a pill form.

How do I get rid of ringworm on my cat naturally?

These include: Apple Cider Vinegar – Dab some on each spot a couple of times each day for about a week. Vinegar changes the PH balance of the skin and the fungus cannot grow and spread. You can also use a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse after you bathe your cat.

What kills ringworm quickly?

Over-the-counter antifungals can kill the fungus and promote healing. Effective medications include miconazole (Cruex), clotrimazole (Desenex) and terbinafine (Lamisil). After cleaning the rash, apply a thin layer of antifungal medication to the affected area 2 to 3 times per day or as directed by the package.

What can I put on my cat's ringworm?

You apply a topical medication directly onto your cat’s skin affected by the ringworm infection. A systemic antifungal is a medication that is given orally. The most common oral medication your vet might recommend for cats is itraconazole. The most common topical medication your vet might suggest is miconazole.

Can I touch my cat if it has ringworm?

People with weaker immune systems are more at risk of catching ringworm from cats, including young children, elderly people, people undergoing chemotherapy or treatment involving transplants or transfusions. We recommend that you don’t let children touch your cat if he or she has ringworm.

Many people are surprised to find that ringworm is not caused by a worm at all, but by a fungus. The fungi involved are called dermatophytes, and the more scientifically correct name for ringworm is dermatophytosis. The dermatophyte fungi feed upon the dead cells of skin and hair causing in people a classic round, red lesion with a ring of scale around the edges and normal recovering skin in the center. Because the ring of irritated, itchy skin looked like a worm, the infection was erroneously named. The characteristic ring appearance is primarily a human phenomenon. In animals, ringworm frequently looks like a dry, grey, scaly patch but can also mimic any other skin lesion and have any appearance.

Photo courtesy of CDC Public Health Image Library and Dr. Lucille GeorgePositive ringworm culture showing the characteristic white colony turning the growth medium red. Ringworm fungi classically produce a white fluffy colony and will turn the orange growth medium red within two to 14 days.

Depending on the outcome of preliminary tests, your veterinarian may begin ringworm treatment right away or postpone it until after more definitive results are available. The test will also pick up dead fungi in a successfully treated patient, falsely indicating that the infection is continuing when it is not. Infected animals are constantly shedding spores into the environment (your house) thus disinfection is just as important as treatment of the affected pet.

The infected pet will require isolation while the environment is disinfected and should not be allowed back into the clean area until a culture is negative. Ideally all pets should be cultured and isolated until they have been deemed clear of infection, at which point they can be allowed back into the clean area. Infected pets generally require oral medication, which may be supplemented with topical treatment (dipping, lotion, or both).

With the spread of infection controlled, only the pre-existing fungus remains and generally can be removed with topical therapy as described later on. It is still as effective as the other medications but the newer products appear to be safer and griseofulvin is rapidly becoming a historical note only. There is an oral suspension that can be used but often the dosing volumes are inconveniently high for small patients and the medication is expensive.

Persian cats and young kittens are felt to be sensitive to its side effects, which usually are limited to nausea but can include liver disease and serious white blood cell changes. Cats infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus commonly develop life-threatening blood cell changes and should never be exposed to this medication. Despite the side effects, which can be severe for some individuals, griseofulvin is still the traditional medication for the treatment of ringworm and is usually somewhat less expensive than itraconazole.

It turns out that dermatophyte fungi also have chitin in their cell walls and some initial research suggested that lufenuron was a helpful adjunct to other more conventional treatments. The following specific recommendations for environmental disinfection come from the Dermatology Department at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. The hairs and skin particles from the infected individual literally forms the dust and dirt around the house and are the basis for reinfection.

Target areas should receive good suction for at least 10 minutes and hard surfaces should be cleaned with a Swiffer or similar product. The steam is not hot enough to kill ringworm spores but should help clean the dirt and remove the contaminated particles. Usually this will be the pet that has been being treated for a while and appears visually to be cured but in fact is still infected, or one that is simply carrying the fungus on its fur in the same way an inanimate object might have fungal spores on its surface.

Typically, this takes 4 months, a long time in a home environment for contamination to be occurring continuously.

Ringworm is often seen in cats, even indoor cats. But despite the name, it doesn’t involve any worms. Thankfully, this highly contagious and non-life-threatening infection is avoidable and treatable if you know what to do.

Your cat can get ringworm indirectly by simply touching the bedding, food and water dishes, toys, and other items that a carrier or infected pet has come in contact with. To confirm that a round lesion is ringworm and not another type of hair or skin issue, your vet may perform tests for a diagnosis:

The lamp could make other things glow, including dead skin cells, topical ointments, and other fibers, so it’s just one test used for evaluation. A special purple stain causes the ringworm spores, which look like small ellipses with lines in it, to be visible under a microscope. But due to the size of the capsules, it typically has to be compounded into a liquid solution in order to dose it for a cat.

Finally, if you have a cat with ringworm, you’ll need to treat your home environment in order to kill any remaining spores.

I have been fighting ringworm in my home for several months and I am so frustrated! A litter of kittens I rescued tested positive in the beginning. Originally lesions broke out on two of them and was limited to dusty looking ears with rings, patches or elongated patches of hair loss. The four kittens, who are now 6 months old, were originally housed in one bedroom in the house and are now in their own large outdoor kennel with a covered top. Two of my four adult cats also have developed lesions that are slowly resolving. The two adults are currently housed in a large outdoor dog kennel. I have also developed ringworm lesions myself while caring for them.

Using a Swiffer or a vacuum to remove hair and other debris is preferable to sweeping, as the spores are generally better contained and less likely to be kicked up into the air. A word of caution – bleach and undiluted Rescue (or any form of accelerated hydrogen peroxide) should never be used together due to the reaction that occurs between the two compounds, releasing harmful fumes.

Lime sulfur, in particular, has been shown to have residual sporicidal activity for several days after application and should significantly reduce the contamination of the environment if applied to the cats entire body. In many cases, lesions near the face are difficult to adequately soak with lime sulfur due to concerns about getting the solution in the cats eyes. In such cases, this may create a false sense of security and lead to contamination of their future homes and exposure of other cats.

If you have any other concerns about the health of your cats or the kittens you have taken in, please address them with your veterinarian as soon as possible, as treating other issues may be necessary to help them clear the ringworm infection. I would recommend wearing long sleeves and nitrile gloves when you are handling the cats and cleaning, and even showering immediately after working with them. I cannot speak to the human medicine aspect of your treatment, so please continue monitoring with your physician, and consider discussing referral to a dermatologist.

Use of Lime Sulphur and Itraconazole to Treat Shelter Cats Naturally Infected with Microsporum Canis in an Annex Facility: An Open Field Trial. Veterinary Dermatology 18, no.

Kill the Ringworm with Topical Treatments

Ringworm is a fungus that afflicts animals and humans, though the symptoms look different in different species. In a cat, ringworm causes hair loss in irregular shapes, especially on its legs and face. Once your vet has diagnosed your cat as having ringworm, she may suggest different treatments to try simultaneously or one after the other.

Administer Griseofulvin

Cut the pills to the correct dosage. If your cat’s ringworm is severe, your vet might prescribe griseofulvin, which comes in a pill form. Use a razor blade or pill cutter to ensure proper dosage: give your cat 20 to 50 mg of griseofulvin per kilogram of your cat’s weight, according to your vet’s instructions.Make your cat swallow the medication. To give your cat a pill, gently, but firmly, hold the cat by the scruff of the neck with one hand while using the other to force the pill to the back of its mouth. If this is ineffective, try using a cat pill-popper available at any pet store. Once the pill is in its mouth, hold your cat’s mouth closed and gently rub its throat in downward strokes until it swallows the pill.If this doesn’t work, try hiding the pill in special treats that have “pockets” for this purpose, or ask your vet if it is OK to grind the pill and mix it in your cat’s food. (Some medications lose their efficacy when you grind them, so always check first.)Repeat the administration of griseofulvin daily until your cat’s symptoms have disappeared.

What Is Ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection that infects many different species of animals. It’s also referred to as dermatophytosis. In cats, about 98 percent of ringworm cases are caused by the fungus

Signs of Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm lesions create hairless, scaly, red rings on the skin. They’re also often quite itchy. These round lesions usually appear on the front legs, ears, or other parts of a cat’s head but can pop up anywhere, especially in severe infections. You’ll notice ringworm when petting your cat. You’ll first see a small patch of hair loss, and then upon further examination, you’ll find a red ring in this patch of hairless skin.

Causes of Ringworm

Cats can carry the fungal spores of ringworm and show symptoms of the disease, or not show any symptoms at all. Spores can spread to other cats quite easily, either directly or indirectly. Your cat can get an infection when in direct contact while touching another animal who has ringworm. Your cat can get ringworm indirectly by simply touching the bedding, food and water dishes, toys, and other items that a carrier or infected pet has come in contact with.

Can You Get Ringworm From Your Cat?

Ringworm is a zoonotic disease, which means it can spread from an animal to a human. A ringworm infection in a person typically occurs after a person has pet an infected or carrier cat, but it can also occur after simply handling items that were used by an infected cat. Immune-compromised individuals, such as the elderly and very young, are more prone to contracting ringworm.

How to Treat Ringworm

To confirm that a round lesion is ringworm and not another type of hair or skin issue, your vet may perform tests for a diagnosis:These different tests will verify that your cat has ringworm. Your vet will then be able to treat the fungal infection with appropriate medication. Your vet may also ask you if you have any lesions that look similar to your cat’s lesions, as another indication of this zoonotic disease.

Question:

I have been fighting ringworm in my home for several months and I am so frustrated! A litter of kittens I rescued tested positive in the beginning. Originally lesions broke out on two of them and was limited to dusty looking ears with rings, patches or elongated patches of hair loss. The four kittens, who are now 6 months old, were originally housed in one bedroom in the house and are now in their own large outdoor kennel with a covered top. Two of my four adult cats also have developed lesions that are slowly resolving. The two adults are currently housed in a large outdoor dog kennel. I have also developed ringworm lesions myself while caring for them.I am working closely with my vet. Everyone had been on terbinafine but at this point she doesn’t want to tax their livers anymore with another medication. However, she does think they are on the mend. Everyone had had topical treatment with lime sulfur once at the vet hospital. She recommended that I put lime sulfur dip on their ears 2x a day. I can only manage 1x a day. My plan is to adopt them out after they resolve.I have read that placing items in the sun for a period of time actually kills ringworm. Is this true? I understand the importance of using Rescue® and the bleach solution but I just want to know if this is another tool. I’m thinking about the carpeted cat trees. I have them outside right now. I’d like to bleach them and set them in the sun. Or throw them away if that is the best advice.Also, I have read of the 1:10 bleach solution but I have also read a weaker concentration can be used on surfaces on a daily basis and is effective. I believe they said the weaker solution can be used in the home environment, where surfaces may not withstand the 1:10. I’m thinking about my laminate flooring and wooden desks.I have tried to clean and bleach items, use nitrile gloves, cover myself, etc., as recommended, however I am still plagued with this fungus. Can anyone give me some advice or hope?

Answer:

First of all, I want to say thank you for taking the kittens in, and I completely understand the frustration of the situation you are working through.The best advice to help get this under control would be to reduce the fungal contamination in your home and in the pens where the cats are currently living. Removal of any visible debris including hair by mechanically cleaning/scrubbing surfaces with a detergent (such as Formula 409®or Clorox® Clean Up®), rinsing and then drying thoroughly can go a long way to remove fungal spores. This pre-cleaning step before a disinfectant is applied is essential to the success of removing spores from the environment.Using a Swiffer® or a vacuum to remove hair and other debris is preferable to sweeping, as the spores are generally better contained and less likely to be kicked up into the air. Once the hard surfaces have been thoroughly washed with a detergent, rinsed and dried completely, Rescue® (accelerated hydrogen peroxide) diluted 1:16, or bleach diluted 1:32, should then be applied. The surface should remain wet for at least 10 minutes to allow for the appropriate amount of contact time. A fungal culture of the environment can be done (by your veterinarian) after cleaning and disinfection to ensure the areas have been successfully decontaminated from fungal spores. Additional information on how to do an environmental culture can be found here – http://www.uwsheltermedicine.com/library/guidebooks/ringworm/environmental-decontamination.A word of caution – bleach and undiluted Rescue® (or any form of accelerated hydrogen peroxide) should never be used together due to the reaction that occurs between the two compounds, releasing harmful fumes. You should also avoid using these chemicals if you have no way to safely contain the cats in a different area during cleaning; I would suggest putting them in carriers outdoors while you are cleaning to avoid contaminating any other areas in your home.All soft items (blankets, towels, clothing, etc.) should be washed in the washing machine twice and dried completely to remove as many spores as possible. Use the longest wash cycle available on your machine and do not overload the washer. Do not wash with other items that have not been exposed to the infected cats in the same load. Bleach can be used in addition to detergent but is not strictly required.For carpeted areas, thorough vacuuming followed by two cycles of carpet shampooing has been shown to be effective. Steam cleaning is also recommended as an alternative. For areas of heavy contamination, application of a disinfectant after vacuuming and prior to above cleaning has been shown to be helpful but disinfectants such as Rescue® may cause discoloration of carpeting.For the cat trees, if the kittens or lesional cats had access to them, I would suggest throwing them away as complete decontamination will be difficult. There is limited evidence that some dermatophytes are inhibited by UV light, though this has not been demonstrated to be effective for sterilizing surfaces, and I would not expect it to have any meaningful effect on a carpeted or fabric covered surface. Your veterinarian could do fungal cultures from the cat trees to see if there are fungal spores present but the high risk makes it preferable to discard them.The other important piece of this is to reduce contamination from the cats themselves. The most effective way to do this is to apply lime sulfur dip (at 8 oz. per gallon of water) to each cat’s entire body twice weekly, rather than applying it only to the ears. More information about how to properly apply the “dip” to cats can be found here – https://www.giveshelter.org/dermatophyte-treatment-in-a-nutshell.htmlWe do recommend systemic treatment in conjunction with the topical lime sulfur but the topical treatment is the most important component of successful treatment. Lime sulfur, in particular, has been shown to have residual sporicidal activity for several days after application and should significantly reduce the contamination of the environment if applied to the cats’ entire body. You should also discuss additional forms of treatment with your veterinarian. In many cases, lesions near the face are difficult to adequately soak with lime sulfur due to concerns about getting the solution in the cat’s eyes. Use of a topical miconazole ointment (≥1%) can be beneficial for lesions in these areas.Your veterinarian may already be doing this, but since it was not mentioned, I wanted to add that we recommend routinely performing fungal cultures on cats during the course of treatment. This helps to determine if they are responding to treatment or if a change in treatment plan is indicated. It is important to demonstrate that the cats are culture negative before determining that they are cured, as some cats will regrow their hair but remain culture positive due to small areas of persistent infection. In such cases, this may create a false sense of security and lead to contamination of their future homes and exposure of other cats. We recommend culturing cats weekly while on treatment and two negative cultures are needed before declaring an animal is cured.Underlying health problems can increase the severity of the infection and prolong the course of treatment. If you have any other concerns about the health of your cats or the kittens you have taken in, please address them with your veterinarian as soon as possible, as treating other issues may be necessary to help them clear the ringworm infection. In particular, external parasites such as fleas and other skin conditions can exacerbate ringworm infections; since the cats are now housed outdoors I would be even more cautious about maintaining them on adequate flea and tick prevention.Reducing fungal contamination in your home will be beneficial in reducing your personal exposure as well. I would recommend wearing long sleeves and nitrile gloves when you are handling the cats and cleaning, and even showering immediately after working with them. I cannot speak to the human medicine aspect of your treatment, so please continue monitoring with your physician, and consider discussing referral to a dermatologist.I hope this has been helpful, and thank you for reaching out to us. You have certainly gone above and beyond in the care that you have already provided the kittens. Please feel free to contact us again if you have any additional questions or concerns.Olivia Swailes, DVM