Q:

What does equine ringworm look like?

A:

Quick Answer

Equine ringworm typically begins as thin or patchy looking hair that eventually develops into circular lesions. It may start out with just one or two lesions, but can spread quickly.

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Full Answer

The hairless areas often look red or inflamed, and there may be flaky or scaly skin around them. Most cases involve the distinctive round lesions that give the fungus its colloquial name, but some horses may have irregular patchy hair instead. A veterinarian can diagnose this type of ringworm by taking a skin scraping of the affected area and examining it under a microscope. Ringworm spores should be evident.

Ringworm typically begins in the saddle or girth area, although it can occur anywhere on the horse's body. It can also spread to other parts, especially if the horse is brushed. Ringworm is highly contagious and can easily spread to other horses, so quarantine is necessary. It can also affect humans, dogs and other animals, so people handling infected horses need to be careful. Ringworm can live for some time on walls, brushes and tack, so owners should disinfect the horse's surroundings.

Ringworm is not a life-threatening condition, but it can cause discomfort. It generally clears up on its own, but this can take some time and it remains contagious the entire time. As a result, most people treat the area with anti-fungal washes to kill it more quickly. Clipping the hair surrounding the lesions can also help, because the fungus feeds on the keratin in the hair.

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