The medical term used to describe ringworm is dermatophytosis. Though the name suggests that it must be caused by some worms, actually it is a form of fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, and nails of cats. This infection is quite common, and is highly contagious. It spreads easily when it comes in direct contact with another animal. It can also get transmitted indirectly through the bedding, brushes, and grooming equipment touched by an infected animal. Some cats may also act as asymptomatic carriers, which means that they carry the fungus and shed it in the surroundings, but no symptoms can be observed on their own body.
Such infections are rarely found in adult cats with a healthy track record, as most can resist the infection naturally. However, kittens below the age of one and aging cats are at a high risk of getting this kind of affliction. Ringworm is also quite common in cats who are suffering from other diseases, such as feline diabetes, or are undernourished. Cats who roam around outside may also easily get the infection. In some cases, it could be genetic. It has been found that certain cat breeds, such as Persian cats, get infected by ringworm very frequently.
The most common identifiable sign is skin lesions. In the initial stage, they are mostly found on the head, ears, and tail. Later, they may spread to other parts of the body, namely the face, nose, chin, and lips. When it first appears, it is like a small dot. With the passage of time, its shape and size changes and it grows bigger. A typical skin lesion is round in shape and there is no hair on the patch of affected skin. The central part of these sores is usually quite scaly. Sometimes, small pustules may break out in it.
The infected part of the skin tends to become irritable and itchy, and may turn red. If the infection spreads all over the body, the skin becomes dry, flaky, and greasy. As soon as your cat gets the infection, it starts to suffer from hair loss. The shedding may vary from mild to severe, and is different in every individual case. As a result, small patches of hair loss can be seen, which usually grow back in time. The fungus can infect the nails or nail beds of the cat as well. In that case, the nails look distorted and damaged.
If you detect such symptoms in your cat, you should take your cat to the vet without any delay. If the infection has not spread much, it can be cured by topical application of an antifungal cream. Another common form of topical treatment is lime sulfur dips. Many people tend to avoid this treatment, as the dips have a bad odor, and it also changes the color of the cat's fur temporarily. But it really works wonders against a ringworm infection.
For moderate to severe infections, just topical treatment is not enough―it has to be accompanied by oral medications as well. If there is some underlying condition that affects the cat's general health and immune system, it also needs to be treated. Along with these treatment, you should provide your pet with proper, healthy food.
Many people think that ringworm will go away on its own, and do not treat the condition. However, this approach is absolutely wrong. This is an infection that spreads quite fast and can infect other pets and even humans in the house. Therefore, it is advised that the symptoms be treated as soon as possible to prevent further spread of the infection.