RINGWORM IN HORSES - Signs, treatment and prevention.

Despite its name, Ringworm is a dermatophte (skin 'loving') fungus and not an actual worm. The two most common types of ringworm are trichophyton and microsporon, both of which are highly contagious and infectious; they can be spread from humans, clothing, grooming kits, rugs, fencing, gates or just about anything that the horse comes into contact with. 

The fungi or mycelia can remain on the skin for up to 3 weeks before any obvious signs become visible, therefore the risk of it spreading are very high in yards or groups of horses. 

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The fungus targets the superficial layers of the skin firstly causing inflammation; this is followed by the attack on the hair follicle which then dies just above the skin surface.

The skin lesions usually start as small raised spots from which the hair is lost.  These spread from these spots and usually become scurfy or a thick dry crumbly scab may form.  Sometimes the lesions are sore and sometimes itchy.  In many cases there may only be a couple of lesions but if left untreated and especially if spread by grooming, the condition can become extensive.  The infection is highly contagious and whole groups of horses can become affected in an outbreak.

The oldest part of each lesion is at the centre as the spores' spiral outward forming the familiar circular sores.

As soon as symptoms are indentified the horse, if possible, must be isolated from any others and everything that the horse has been using or is in contact with must be thoroughly disinfected.

Your clothing is also a possible carrier therefore a pair of overalls or a separate set of clothing should be worn when dealing with the infected horse until you have the all clear.
peeling ringworm
Ask your vet for a recommended topical medications and washes.

Prevention is always better than a cure, however, because this fungus can lie dormant in a variety of materials and is particularly resistant to weather conditions it may strike at any moment.

A new horse to a yard should if possible be kept separate from the others for 2-3 weeks so that any infections can manifest and be treated before they contaminate anyone else. 
Ringworm is most likely to appear in the winter months however this is not a rule, it may strike at anytime so be thorough with your grooming and be observant at all times.

Other related articles on skin conditons

SWEET ITCH - Causes, symptoms and managing
BYE BYE ITCH -Extensively trialled and tested on horses and ponies throughout the UK.
SWEET ITCH - What causes this condition?
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