Managing Ringworm Naturally in Cats
Ringworm is the most common fungal skin infection seen in cats. Ringworm, despite the name, is not caused by worms. It is caused by a microscopic group of parasitic fungal organisms known as dermatophytes ("plants that live on the skin"). Thus, Ringworm is better described as a condition and is not a specific disease with only one specific cause.
Three of the most common fungi responsible for the development of ringworm in your pet are:
· Microsporum canis
· Microsporum gypseum
· Trichophyton mentagrophytes
Ringworm is an airborne fungus, which makes it highly contagious, and it can spread to humans. Humans can contact it from their pets simply by touching their pet’s bedding. Dermatophytes are spread between animals by direct contact or by contact with infected hair, scale or fungal elements on animals, in the environment, or on brushes, combs and clippers and transport cages.
Symptoms: Ringworm invades the dead, outer layers of the skin, claws & hair. On the scalp it starts in the form of a small pimple and slowly increases in size. The hairs present at the infected area of the ringworm break off easily. When ringworm occurs on the skin, it forms a circular patch and as it increases in size, the centre clears forming a ring. Intense itching may occur. The infection occurring on the feet usually forms in between a person's toes and is known as “athlete's foot”.
Treatment: There are a range of remedies available that may help relieve the condition. 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.
· Raw Papaya – Rub fresh sliced fruit on the spots each day until the infection clears
· Bleach – Mix bleach with water, 6 parts to 1 part, and dab on with a cotton ball several times a day. Bleach will help dry the infected site. It can cause allergic reactions and may also burn if incorrectly diluted. Use with caution as your cat could lick residue off and get sick.
· Grapefruit Seed Extract "citricidal" – Dilute it a little bit and dab it on the infected areas.
· Garlic – Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub over each spot a couple times a day for about a week.
· Raw potato and regular salt - Peel the potato, make a hole inside and fill it with salt. Place potato on the plate and let it sit and release juice. Then apply this juice as often as you can to the place where you or your cat has ringworm. The ringworm should clear up in a few days.
· Herbal Remedies - Herbs that fight inflammation and promote healing are helpful for feline ringworm. They can be provided as powders, teas or tinctures, though tinctures are best for cats when they do not include alcohol. Calendula is useful as an anti-inflammatory, and can be applied directly to affected areas of skin. A paste of neem leaves and turmeric has also been effective for ringworm. .
· Homeopathic remedies - also offer benefits in dealing with ringworm in cats. Bacillinum is one of the main remedies used for this purpose. Kali arsenicum, Sepia, and Arsenicum are also useful. A homeopath will select the appropriate remedy depending on the cat's specific symptoms and condition.
· 54% Iodine in Poppy Seed oil
· 2.5% Tincture of Iodine – once a day for 5 days then alternative days 5 times
Note: Do not use Tea Tree Oil on cats. It is toxic to them and may result in death.
Prevention: Because ringworm can be spread readily, especially to people or animals with compromised immune systems, cleaning exposed surfaces is important. Use bleach either diluted or even full-strength, to clean areas and fabrics exposed to ringworm. A gentler option is to dilute Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) in water and use it in a spray bottle for cleaning as you would use bleach.