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Signs, symptoms and treatments of ringworm in horses

If you suspect your horse is suffering from ringworm, it’s important to be able to spot the signs. In this guide, we consider common ringworm symptoms and offer tips on how to treat ringworm.
 Signs, symptoms and treatments of ringworm in horses

If left untreated, ringworm can become a serious problem for your horse. Therefore, it’s important to be able to spot the common ringworm symptoms that may help you decide on a course of treatment. In this guide we take a look at the ringworm warning signs and offer advice on finding a cure for ringworm.

Why not head over to our How To section to see more advice on caring for horses?

Ringworm symptoms and treatments
First of all, it’s important to establish why ringworm can develop into such a serious problem for your horse. If an infection of ringworm is allowed to spread, it can lead to your horse losing coat definition, substantial hair loss and changes in equine behaviour. 
 
Before we take a more advanced look at the symptoms, it’s also important to state that the term ‘ringworm’ is a bit of a misnomer, as the ailment has nothing to do with actual worms or parasites. Ringworm is actually a fungus that can prove highly contagious – even for humans – if left to spread.
 
As touched on above, the easiest way to establish whether your horse is struggling with a bout of ringworm is to assess the condition of the horse’s coat. As ringworm is so hard to control once the fungus spreads, the problem should be immediately obvious. Coat hair will appear coarse and dishevelled; however before you diagnose the problem it’s important to analyse whether the problem is rain scald or the more serious ringworm.
 
Itchiness will be another visual indicator that the horse is in the grip of a ringworm infection. The horse will begin to scratch aggressively around the most severely affected areas, and you will recognise the extent of the problem should the horse be able to focus on nothing else but its skin irritation.
 
If you suspect the problem is serious, consult a vet and they will be able to analyse skin swabs to confirm the ringworm. In terms of how to treat ringworm, you’ll need to first isolate any affected horses from the rest of the herd. Mild cases may clear naturally over time, but if the fungal infection persists, use specialist anti-fungal shampoos and creams to help tackle the problem. While it may take a little time to carry out treatment for ringworm, it’s important to react quickly to the problem to keep it under control.
 
Tips on how to treat ringworm
 
  • Before deciding whether you need ringworm treatment for horses, you must diagnose the infection. Examine your horse for irritated skin patches that appear crusty and flaky. Pay particular attention to the girth area, as this is where horse ringworm commonly begins. 
     
  • Once you have found the infected areas, clip the hair in these places. Clean it up so that the dead skin and hair cells can be eliminated. Ensure that you clip around the areas too. 
     
  • Now sponge some water onto the shaved parts. Use a ringworm treatment for horses such as Betadine. This is an antifungal wash that can be purchased from your vet or horse supply shops. The scrub should be left on for about 10 minutes.
     
  • Horse ringworm treatment continues by mixing 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with some water. Apply this to the treated areas in order to wash the soap off thoroughly and kill fungus. 
     
  • Towel dry or blow dry the wet patches until they are no longer moist. If you leave the areas wet, fungus can thrive easily. 
     
  • Dress the areas with an antifungal dressing so that the exposed skin is covered and protected. The Betadine ointment should be used daily for a week until you see the infection is reducing. 
     
  • To continue ringworm treatment for horses, always make sure these areas are kept dry and clean. Disinfect the area your horse dwells in and wash your clothes.
 
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