Getting Rid of Ringworm by fjzhangxiaoquan



Getting Rid of Ringworm

Consider complementary                        .. Due to the universal
                                           nature of the ringworm
therapies in treati ng your                fungi, most if not all pets
                                           harbor small amounts of
cat for th is zoonotic
                                           the organisms on their
disease.                                   bodies at various times
                                           throughout life without
By Shawn Messonier, DVM                    evidence of infection.
                                           The fungi causing ring­
                                           worm are so common
       ingworm is a common disease         that many veterinary

R      affecting young kittens and
       occasionally older cats. Many
veterinarians believe that it may be
                                           dermatologists bel ieve
                                           that every kitten is infect­ A Dermatophyte Test Medium (DTM), a special culture
                                           ed with ringworm! Older plating system, will confirm the ringworm diagnosis in
the most common skin problem they          cats have more maturely conjunction with clinical signs.
treat in young kittens. As a result, cat   developed immune sys­
owners who acquire a new kitten            tems, so they are less likely to carry    organism; and Trichophyton menta­
should know what to expect regard­         and transmit ringworm fungi.              grophytes, canied by rodents.
ing this often-misunderstood disease.      However, older cats with stressed             Dermatophytes are spread by
    A recommendation by the family         immune systems (those with cancer,        direct contact between animals,
physician to get rid of the new kitten     on chronic corticosteroid therapy or      between people, or between animals
as a way to prevent ringworm from          infected with feline leukemia virus or    and people; transmission via brush­
being spread to other family members       feline immunodeficiency virus) may        es, combs or other objects is an
is outdated and harms the doctor­          develop ringworm infections.              important factor in person-to-person
patient relationship (not to mention             Even though most kittens proba­     infection.
being rather extreme!). Milder com­        bly carry ringworm on their coats
plementary therapies work well in          (they are infected), they never show      What To look For
young kittens, though potent medica­       clinical signs of the disease (they are   Clinical signs in kittens and cats vary
tions may be needed. By learning           infected but not diseased), since         depending upon the genus and
about ringworm, you will be able to        each one's immune system is unique.       species of ringworm fungus involved
work with your kitten's doctor to find           Ringworm is a zoonotic disease,     and the inflammatory response. The
the approach that best serves the health   which means the fungi can be trans­       infection pri mari Iy infects ha ir foil i­
needs of your pet.                         mitted to humans as well as other         cles, resulting in circular patches of
                                           pets. Because most kittens (rather        alopecia (hair loss) with crusting or
What Is Ringworm?                          than adult cats) carry ringworm, they     scaling along the edges. However,
Ringworm, known in medical termi­          may be contagious to their owners. If     cat dermatology is quite challenging.
nology as dermatophytosis, is a com­       a kitten is raised in a contaminated      There are only a few ways in which
mon fungal infection of the skin, hair     environment without veterinary care,      the cat's skin reacts to any foreign
and nails of cats (primarily) and dogs     he or she is more likely to be infect­    invader. In addition to the classic
(secondarily). Younger kittens are         ed with ringworm fungi.                   crusti ng ci rcular lesion mentioned,
more predisposed to acquiring infec­             Ringworm (dermatophytosis) in       ringworm can cause any of the fol­
tion than adults. This reflects the        dogs and cats can be caused by one        lowing:
immature immune system of kittens,         of three organisms: Microsporum           •    Miliary dermatitis refers to tiny
and is technically due to a delayed        canis (M. canis), a zoophilic (animal)    scabs (papules), which resemble mil­
host immunity as well as differences       fungus that is the most common            let seeds. These cats are often called
in the biochemical pl'Operties of their    organism infecting dogs and cats;         "itchy and scabby," and the tiny
skin and hair.                             Microsporum gypseum, a soil-borne         scabs are often felt by the owner

before they are seen .                       suspected of harboring ringworm
• Eosinophilic lesions are red raised        that might possibly have contributed
lesions that can occur anywhere on           to a human infection, the kitten's hair
the cat's body, and they are typically       can be brushed with a sterile tooth­
quite itchy.                                 brush. The brushed hair is transmit­
• Alopecia means hair loss.                  ted from the toothbrush to the DTM
    Ringworm, as well as many other          culture plate and observed for posi­
diseases, may simply cause hair loss         tive growth.
                                                                                           An example of human ringworm.
without other lesions in infected and             Ringworm is self limiting in many
diseased cats.                               pets. Th is means that as kittens get         involves topical and/or systemic
                                             older and develop a mature immune             (internal) medication.
Diagnosing Ringworm                          system, they can "self cure" as their
Diagnosis is made by culturing the            immune systems fight off the fungus.         Mild Infections
suspected hair and skin on a special         However, treatment is recommended             in my practice, therapy for mild
culture plating system called                for several reasons.                          infections combines topical therapy
Dermatophyte Test Medium (DTM). A                 First, not all kittens will self cure;   with nutritional, herbal or homeo­
presumptive diagnosis is made                treatment is much easier when the             pathic support of the infected kitten
(pending confirmation by culture) by          infection is mild. Early intervention        or cat. Often early treatment wi II
clinical signs, the age of the pet, neg­     can prevent severe infections.                cure the infection without the need
ative skin scrapings (to check for                Second, remember that ringworm           for potentially harmful drugs. For a
mange, another disease often seen in          is easily transmitted to pet owners by       few isolated lesions, topical therapy
kittens and cats), and a positive Wood's      direct contact with the infected hair        with an antifungal ointment, cream
light test; this is a test using a special   from the kitten. Early treatment can          or solution (most commonly
UV light that gives a positive               prevent transmission to other pets            chlorhexidine, clotrimazole, micona­
response in up to 50 percent of M.            and to the kitten's owner. Conven­           zole or thiabendazole) may be effec­
canis ringworm infections. For kittens       tional treatment of feline ringworm           tive. Treatment at this early stage may

                                  The Human Side of the Equation

                                                                     canis, most commonly acquired from cats and kit­
   R    ingworm is seen as a superficial infection in
        humans, involving the nails, hair and the outer
   layer of the skin. As with felines, the three main
                                                                     tens. In 30 to 70 percent of households with an
                                                                     infected pet, at least one family member catches the
   groups of dermatophytes are Trichophyton,                         disease. In order to minimize the spread of ringworm,
   Microsporum and Epidermophyton.                                   family members should limit close skin-to-skin con­
      Zoophilic dermatophytosis is an acute inflamma­                tact with infected pets, wash all bedding and combs
   tory disease involving the skin and hair follicles.               used in grooming the pets, treat pets topically (and
   Infections are usually deep with hair follicle involve­           preferably shave the hair of 10nghaired pet) to mini­
   ment, which can then cause secondary bacterial                    mize contamination, and thoroughly wash hands
   involvement in large areas of the skin.                           after handling the pet. Cases of ringworm in people
      Diagnosis in humans is similar to that in animals              should be cultured to determine if the infection
   -by a thorough physical examination of the patient's              might have been acquired from the family pet.
   skin noting all areas of involvement. To aid in the                  Alternatively, pets can be combed and cultured to
   diagnosis a potassium hydroxide preparation (KOH)                 determine if they are harboring dermatophytes. This
   and a DTM culture should be obtained.                             is not as good as culturing the infected person, as
      The conventional treatment of human ringworm                   many pets may asymptomatically carry a ringworm
   dermatophytosis consists of antifungal agents admin­              fungus without being infected; finding the fungus on
   istered topically and/or orally from one to six months            the pet does not necessarily guarantee that the
   and continuing for one to two weeks after lesions                 owner is infected with the same organism.
   have resolved.                                                       Since systemic treatment of pets is challenging,
      While pets are often implicated in human cases of              expensive and potentially toxic, pets should not be
   ringworm, only about 30 percent of cases of micro­                treated indiscriminately just because the owner may
   sporosis and 15 percent of tinea are caused by M.                 have a ringworm infection.

                                                                               THE WHOLE CAT JOURNAL. JANUARY 2001
                                                   shou Id be screened for dis­           conventional medications are used,
                                                   eases such as diabetes, adre­          especially in mild cases. And of
                                                   nal gland disease, feline              course, any herbs taken internally to
                                                   leukemia virus infection or            boost the immune system may be
                                                   feline immunodeficiency virus          useful. Among those are alfalfa,
                                                   infection that interfere with a        astragalus, echinacea or ginseng.
                                                   cure, Cats with resistant infec­
                                                   tions may require treatment            Other Therapies
                                                   with the antifungal medica­            Supplementation with vitamins and
                                                   tions itraconazle or ketocona­         minerals can boost the immune sys­
A medicated shampoo might be indicated for a
                                                   zole. Pets are treated for two         tem and help the skin heal. Whole
cat with a generalized case of ringworm.
                                                  weeks beyond clinical cure or           food supplements containing antioxi­
help in preventing a generalized           until a follow-up fungal culture is            dants are often preferred to chemi­
infection that will require more           negative. Most pets require at least           cally synthesized drugs containing
involved therapy in the future.            four to six weeks of therapy until they        vitamin fractions. I prefer supple­
                                           are cured.                                     ments from a company called
Generalized Infections                                                                    Standard Process, which sells supple­
For treating a generalized infection           Complementary Therapies                    ments directly to doctors to use after
that involves a number of isolated             A natural diet alone will not cure         obtaining a proper diagnosis. OPC
local lesions or generalized hair loss         ringworm. However, all holistic vet­       Synergy (a potent mix of natural
or scabby lesions, both topical thera­         erinarians believe that a sound nutri­     antioxidants from grape seed, green
py and systemic medication are nec­            tional program helps maintain health.      tea and red wine) Immuplex,
essary. Though topical therapy alone           If your kitten or cat is not eating a      Phytolin and Dermatrophin PMG
is not curative, it can keep the infec­        natural, wholesome diet, talk with         (which contains the DNA template
tion under control until the kitten's          your veterinarian about switching          that nourishes the cells of the skin)
maturing immune system kills the               over to healthier meals for your pet.      can help support the kitten or cat
fungus and cures the disease. Topical              While acupuncture will not cure        who has ringworm.
therapy can also reduce the amount             ri ngworm and is not often used to             While not proven, some holistic
of active fungus on the kitten's skin          treat this disease, it might be useful     doctors find that rubbing a small
and hail', making it less likely to transmit   in boosting the immune system to           amount of cider vinegar, dilute
ri ngworm to other pets or the owner.          help the pet's body overcome a diffi­      lavender oil or diluted grapefruit
    Topical therapy for generalized            cult-to-cure infection. In severe cases    seed extract on the areas of scal ing
ringworm infection in kittens and              acupuncture can be used to help            and hair loss may stimulate the
cats includes regular bathing, often           control itching.                           regrowth of hair.
two to three medicated baths per                   Homeopathy uses diluted solu­              There are also anecdotal reports
week (not easy for many kitten own­            tions of herbs, minerals or infectious     of success with colloidal silver and
ers!) While most owners are opposed            organisms. Sulfur is a commonly            dilute tea tree oil. Since essential oils
to shaving the hair off their kittens,         employed remedy for any type of            are potentially toxic to cats, they
the shampoo therapy is more effec­             skin disorder and may be indicated         should only be used under the guid­
tive after whole body hair clips,              for cats with ringworm. A nosode (a        ance of a holistic veterinarian; essen­
especially in long-hail'ed bl'eeds.            special type of remedy made from an        tial oils are safest used in the fmm of
Recommended shampoos al'e med­                 infectious organism) from a ringworm       hydrosols (steamed disti Ilations).
icated with chlorhexidine, lime sul­           fungus may be helpful. The nosode              While conventional treatments
fur, ketoconazole or enilconazole.             can act as a homeopathic vaccine           can be used safely in cats, owners
                                               that wi II sti mu late the kitten's body   should consider a complementary
Severe Infections                              to form immunity against the fungus.       approach to treating ringworm in
Conventional therapy for severe                Other homeopathic remedies can be          their feline family members whenev­
infections includes medicated sham­            used based on additional symptoms          er possible. Doing so will reduce the
poos plus oral antifungal medication           and behavioral traits of the cat.          cost of treatment and minimize toxi­
such as griseofulvin. Cases of ring­               Topically applied herbal reme­         city to the pet. mJ
worm that are resistant to topical             dies, such as goldenseal tea,               Or. Shawn Messonnier is a holistic
therapy are often seen in adu It cats          chamomile or calendula, may be              veterinarian and author of The
and may involved a suppressed                  helpful for treating cats with ring­        Natural Health Bible for Pets (Prima).
immune system; therefore these cats            worm. These can be tried before             He practices in Plano, Texas.


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