Ringworm is one of the top 10 most common skin diseases in the horse and is more common in young horses. It is a superficial fungal infection effecting the epidermal layer of the skin.
It is highly contagious and caused by both Microsporum and Trichophyton species of fungi, some of these are specific to horses whereas others can be passed to other animals and humans.
The spore stage of the fungi is very resistant and can survive in the environment for months to years if the conditions are favourable
- Small areas of tufted hair similar to urticaria (hives) initially
- Circular areas of hair loss usually 1-10cm in diameter
- Moderate reddening of the skin may be visible in white horses
- Broken hair shafts around lesions with thick crusting
- Minimal itching
- Lesions may spontaneously heal and begin to grow hair from the centre outwards.
- The mane and tail are usually spared
Diagnosis is made by a fungal culture of hairs sampled from the edges of the lesions. Fungal culture is hard to perform as there is a high chance of contamination interrupting the culturing process.
Ringworm is a self limiting disease meaning it will eventually resolve itself without treatment. However, the contagious nature of the disease often requires it to be treated to prevent its spread.
The best treatment is usually a full body topical application of a veterinary antifungal lotion or solution (such as enilconazole or 2% lime sulfur) two times a week for at least 3-4 weeks. Oral antifungal medicine (such as Grisofulvin) is not as effective at treating Ringworm but may be used in addition to a topical treatment.
If you have a confirmed or suspected case of Ringworm it is important to prevent transmission of the disease to other people or animals. A licensed antifungal disinfectant should be used to decontaminate the horses stall and any contaminated grooming or yard equipment. Diluted bleach water can be used as an alternative disinfectant for equipment if a licensed product is not immediately available.
If you are worried your horse has contracted ringworm, or have questions, please call us to discuss on 01306 627 706.