Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Research on Ringworm

I did my own experiment, although there were no proper controls. Peko came back with two spots of ringworm, then got a third on his cheek. Machi spotted out with it shortly after. I treated both kittens with miconizole shampoos, every other day. With Peko, I used as topical treatment betadine scrub, three times daily. On Machi, topical treatment was over the counter antifungal tolfunate, sold to treat human ringworm and foot fungus. Who improved? Peko! Not only does he have no sign of ringworm anymore, but he's even quickly grown his hair back. Machi showed no improvement, and now I have placed him on daily internal antifungal medicine.

Does this prove anything? I don't know. But I am now going to switch to treating Machi topically the same way I treated Peko, and see if there is the same rapid improvement.

After all is said and done, I believe, from long hours online last night, the best approach to ringworm treatment is still Lym Sulphur dip, twice weekly for affected cats, once weekly for non affected at risk cats in same household. If ringworm does not resolve in four weeks, adding an internal antifungal, that fights it from within the hair follicle and nail, is helpful.


The best is itraconizole which has the least side affects, but is currently overprescribed and there is fear fungal resistance will develop as a result. It is also expensive. The second best is grisefulvin, although I didn't spell that right. This drug has been used for decades solely for ringworm. It can have nasty GI tract side affects and must be given along with a fatty meal, because it is absorbed and broken down through the liver. It cannot be given to breeding cats, male or female. It cannot be given to cats who have FIV or immune depressed cats due to rare but significant side affects with drops in white blood cell counts and liver damage.

There are hosts of anecdotal treatments out there, and I can't even find research on the safety or effectiveness of some of these touted treatments in cats. Many remedies sold for horses, used also on dogs and cats, like Mane and Tail spray antifungal, have benzalkonium chloride as the active ingredient. I cannot find research on the safety of this product in cats. It is widely used as an antiseptic cleaner and likely would be very effective in eliminating spores if used in cleaning. It is a very commonly pushed and used antifungal in over the counter pet products for topical use. Safe? I don't know. Effective on ringworm? I don't know. You've got to kill ringworm inside hair follicles and inside nails. Something has to either penetrate from the outside or get to it from the inside.

To clip or not to clip is also an age old question. Some think clipping puts microscopic nicks in the skin that allow ringworm to spread via the bloodstream. Not sure if I buy this. It is now suggested long hair cats be trimmed.

I buy the argument if ringworm likes hair and the cat has no hair....well, you get the picture. I have rarely seen ringworm so bad it infected hair on most of the body. I've seen it mainly in a few spots on feet, ears and face, spots very hard to trim. I wonder if spores settle and take on those spots because they are not spots a cat can reach to groom itself. A grooming cat will ingest spores that land, except for those darn long hair cats, where spores can settle into the long hair and hide out even from a fastidious groomer.

Cats coats catch floating spores and Oregon's air is quite dense with mold. Hahahaha. We always used to joke as kids about Oregonians and the wet environment and how we were all soggy and moldy.

Or you just let ringworm run its course, and it does. This is harder, however, in multi cat households or in shelters.

It's so nice when one can find willing adoptors who just treat the one or two kittens they adopt at home, in one room that has no rug so is easy to keep clean.

I am lucky in some ways. I have one couch that is leather now, slick and easy to clean. I have home made cat trees, one, that I chuck after a ringworm outbreak. I have no carpet and easily cleaned chairs, counters and floors. The spare bedroom has an epoxy slick flooring my brother and I coated on as an experiment, made to coat cement floors. These are easy to clean surfaces. I also soak my brooms and dustpans in clorox solution once weekly, like the litterboxes and scoops.

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