Franklin Vets Blog

Why is ringworm not a worm?

September 30, 2021

It is a common misconception that ringworm is a type of worm, and therefore will be prevented by common worm tablets we give to our pets.

cat with ringworm

Green colouring is the ringworm fluorescing under UV light

The reason is most likely because of the distinctive ring of small red spots that form on human skin.

However, Ringworm is in fact a fungal disease (a dermatophyte called Microsporum canis) so common wormers will NOT prevent or treat ringworm, only intestinal worms.

There is no standard treatment to prevent your pet from becoming infected with it, but it generally responds well to medication ( oral capsules and sometimes creams and shampoos).

We see it occasionally on kittens (particularly ex strays) and cats with hair loss and scaley skin especially around the face and ears and front paws, and sometimes on dogs that many have been in contact with an infected cat or hedgehog. On dogs, it shows up more as on oval raised lesion on the skin.

It is important to visit your vet if you suspect this, as it can be passed to humans. It can be diagnosed with an ultraviolet light (green fluorescence), a culture of hair samples or response to treatment if suspected. Your vet will also discuss the management of any other pets in the household and keeping the environment clean e.g. vacuuming, washing bedding, and keeping your pet off your bed! It may take 6 to 8 weeks, but be patient – it can be treated effectively and have a good outcome.

And, if you suspect you might have picked up a ringworm infection from your pet, please see your doctor or pharmacist. It generally responds well to topical creams.

Dr Kath Johnson, Pet Vet at Franklin Vets Pukekohe