FUNGAL INFECTION (aka ringworm) - TRICHOPYTHON MENTAGROPHYTES
Please note: the information on this page should not be substituted for veterinary advice.
Please consult your vet if you suspect an illness.
Caution: Fungal infections are contagious, therefore can be transmitted to other animals and even people (this is also known as zoonosis). You should practice good hygiene to help reduce the risks associated - for example, wear disposable gloves when feeding, cleaning etc and especially when handling infected animals. Remember to wash your hands after contact with infected animals. Disposable aprons may also be useful when handling infected animals to protect clothing.
Causes: There are numerous causes for fungal infection. It is very common in guinea pigs so it is important to be educated about potential causes. Humidity is a very common cause of fungal infection, especially during the warm season. Using a dehumidifier is beneficial if the room feels particularly hot and humid. Also ensure the room is well ventilated to ensure sufficient air flow is available. Plastic houses can contribute to the formation of fungal infections as they can quickly lead to a humid environment so avoid those if possible. Poor hygiene may also lead to fungal infections so ensuring that there habitat is cleaned regularly should be made a priority (vinegar and water solution makes a natural, cheap disinfectant). Mould spores can also come from the hay or straw.
Susceptibility: Some animals are more prone to developing fungal infections than others. Especially very young or elderly guinea pigs may have compromised immunity therefore it tends to be more prevalent with those. Guinea pigs which have existing underlying illnesses may be more likely to develop a fungal infection. It is also fairly common with new animals from a pet shop or breeder, so ensure that you go to a reputable breeder or even better, adopting from a shelter as they have most likely already had a thorough health check beforehand. Some owners may choose to isolate new animals for a few weeks prior to introducing them to new animals, incase there is a risk they may already have an infection, to prevent it spreading to their existing guinea pigs. Although a sensible idea, this is usually unnecessary if the guinea pigs have come from a reputable place. Stressed animals have an increased likelihood of becoming infected.
Symptoms: Usually the first symptom to be noticed is hair loss, particularly around the eyes. It may also show itself as dry skin on the ears which is sometimes confused for ear mites. Hairless circular patches may also occur on the stomach, back, nose etc. This is accompanied by white scales on the skin, along with itchiness (but not always).
Treatment: This may vary depending on the severity of the infection. If caught early enough, natural remedies used consistently (even when the infection appears to be clearing up) may be sufficient and this consists of the application of fungal fighting remedies several times a day. If the guinea pig does not start responding to treatment or it worsens then using a commercial treatment such as Imaverol may be necessary. If you suspect a fungal infection, veterinary care should be the first protocol. This is important because fungal infections display similar symptoms to other illnesses such as mites, therefore a diagnosis from a professional is essential to be able to start a treatment plan.
Natural Remedies: As mentioned earlier, a vet appointment is a good idea to ensure you get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Natural remedies can be used to aid the treatment of ringworm.
Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and it is thought that an acidic environment is ideal for fighting fungal infections. Due to the antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar, it is a good choice when it comes to assisting the treatment of fungal infections. Undiluted apple cider vinegar is thought to be more effective, however it may cause an unpleasant sting, in which case it should be diluted with water before applying. A cotton pad works well for applying this treatment.
Papain and Chymopapain are enzymes in a papaya. These enzymes may help to treat ringworm. Applying slice of raw papaya to the affected area may be beneficial.
Coconut oil is a very effective treatment for fungal problems. It is especially good for those which have itchiness associated with the infection as it soothes and heals the skin. It also contains some anti fungal properties.
Fresh ginger contains many compounds which can help improve ringworm. This may be taken both internally and externally. Ginger is very spicy so should only be administered in very small amounts so it doesn’t cause digestive problems. You can also apply a ginger paste externally to help it heal.
Black cumin, also known as nigella can be effective both internally and externally. It helps support the immune system which is essential when healing fungal infections naturally, as well as containing various anti fungal properties. The seeds may be fed alongside topical treatment to aid the healing of ringworm.