By: Dr. Lydia Gray

What is it?

Ringworm is not a parasite but a fungal infection of the skin and hair. The condition may start out looking like hives then develop into the more typical scaly, crusty, round areas of hair loss. Ringworm is not usually itchy or painful but it can be. It is most common in areas where the skin and hair are broken or damaged such as under the saddle and girth or on the face and neck. Ringworm seems to occur more often in the fall and winter when horses are kept indoors closer together and away from fresh air and sunlight.

What can be done about it?

While ringworm usually goes away on its own, treating the animal and disinfecting the environment help shorten the recovery period, decrease the severity of the condition, and reduce spread to other horses. A veterinarian should be involved in both diagnosing and planning a treatment strategy which may include quarantine, daily bathing, and sanitizing equipment, stalls and other things the infected horse may have come in contact with. Diluted solutions of chlorhexidine, povidone iodine, lime sulfur and bleach are commonly used to destroy the organism both on the horse and in the environment.

What else do I need to know?

Animals with weak immune systems are most at risk for contracting ringworm. This includes the very young and the very old, horses receiving poor nutrition or certain medications, and horses that are debilitated or currently suffering from another disease.

About Dr. Lydia Gray

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