How do I fight ringworm in my environment?
October 7, 2010 8:39 PM   Subscribe

I appear to have ringworm, and I think I got it from my new kitten. I know how to treat ringworm for myself, and I'm taking the kitten to the vet on Tuesday...but is my apartment now extra-plagued with spores? And what should I do about it?

I have read this previous question. But in that case it seemed like a very mild case and the contagious cat wasn't in the home.

I brought home a darling two-month old kitten from the shelter three weeks ago. Right as I was leaving, adoption papers all complete and kitten in carrier, the employee there casually mentioned "Oh, her littermates all have ringworm, but she hasn't shown any signs of it, so you should be fine." I obviously wasn't about to un-adopt at that point, so I just shrugged it off despite being a bit miffed that it hadn't been mentioned earlier.

Well, I've now got what is pretty unmistakeably ringworm (I had a single patch of it diagnosed several years ago by a doctor, so I'm not just basing this on pictures or descriptions from the internet). As soon as I suspected it was ringworm I got some 1% clotrimazole cream and by now the first spot has cleared up completely. But I'm breaking out in new patches all over, a half a dozen so far. Icky and itchy! I'm diligently applying the cream and have an appointment at the vet on Tuesday (I don't see any visible patches on kitty or I would just try applying the cream...).

But here's my question. Is just applying the cream and giving kitty whatever treatment the vet prescribes going to be a losing battle in the face of the contamination of my apartment with ringworm spores? I seem to be quite prone to infections (though not a compromised immune system or anything), so I think I should try to fight this aggressively through cleaning and disinfecting. I don't intend to go crazy with it. But if kitty and I both continue to be infected for a while, at what point do I try to decontaminate the apartment? Now, even though I assume we'll both just continue spreading spores? Once we've both cleared up our patches--if that's even possible as we pass this back and forth through contact and the shared environment? Or is this going to have to be an ongoing process?
posted by ootandaboot to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Best answer: I was actually going to go look for my previous answer but I see you linked that thread already. What I said there still goes, ringworm spores are everywhere anyway. Your kitten has quite a lot right now but the treatment will take care of that pretty fast. Be normally careful with hygiene (so wash your hands after playing with her, don't scratch your lesion then rub something else, etc), make sure you complete the treatment schedule for both of you, and don't get too hung up on it. Beyond that, talk to your vet. They'll be able to give you qualified advice specific to your situation, vets see ringworm a lot.
posted by shelleycat at 9:08 PM on October 7, 2010

Ringworm is a fungus. It's not bedbugs and it's not fleas. This is the good news. Ringworm mostly lives in places that are semi-moist, so wash everything like towels and bedding and wash down hard surfaces with watered down bleach and you should be fine. My experience historically was that taking the medicine [I got pills instead of cream because I had long thick tough-to-wash hair] and washing all my stuff was enough to get rid of it for good. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 9:11 PM on October 7, 2010

Best answer: It's not as bad as it sounds. For you, you need an antifungal - anything that treats athletes foot will work. I had it with an entire litter of kittens and mommy cat (and myself). I bleached the floors and wall, threw everything I could in the wash, and treated myself and the kittens. After all that effort, I sort of gave up - the cats still had it for a while, were presumably shedding the spores everywhere, and I just conceded defeat. There was no way I could win that battle. It still went away, eventually. Mine cleared up pretty quickly, and one of my kittens had it on her nose for a good month. Other than that, no long term damage. It's very common in kittens, as well. Their immune systems are rather weak, so they're more susceptible.

But please, please don't apply your cream on the cat!!! Kittens at that age are so fragile... (okay, they're not as fragile as when they're say 4 weeks, but still.. ) Never give human-grade meds to any animals unless otherwise told to by your vet.
posted by cgg at 9:54 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

By the by, this is very common, so don't feel bad. I'd see kids with ringworm on their bodies (technically called tinea corporis) come into clinic with freaked out parents. I'd say to the parents, "Say, you just get a new cat or kitten, right?" and 9 times out of 10 I'd be right (and the parents would be impressed).

Itraconazole cream was my treatment of choice. Rarely did I ever prescribe systemic (oral) therapy. cgg's recommendations (above) are correct as well. I just found itraconazole to be more effective. It's only by prescription, though. I wouldn't go bonkers bleaching the house - diminishing returns there. It's a self-limiting disease in non-immunocompromised animals, so eventually it will go away.
posted by scblackman at 3:56 AM on October 8, 2010

Don't ever use human medicine on your pet unless your vet advises it, especially not a kitten or puppy. Many things are toxic to dogs and cats that are fine for us, and with a kitten there it the matter of dosage, Hopefully this will clear up and you and kitty will be fine, but follow the advice of your doctor for you and your vet for the kitten.
posted by mermayd at 5:28 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the reassurances everyone! I guess I was a bit freaked out but you've convinced me it'll be ok eventually :)

Also, thanks for the warning about applying the cream to my kitten. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it that way-- I wouldn't dream of feeding a cat any sort of human pills, but it hadn't crossed my mind that the same would go for something topical. I definitely won't put any cream on her unless that's what my vet says to do.
posted by ootandaboot at 7:21 AM on October 8, 2010

Apparently my vet was an outlier - he gave us oral medication for both kittens and a shampoo. He also told me that I could use an athlete's foot cream on the kitten that was showing symptoms if the other cat didn't lick it off (was on an ear).
posted by WowLookStars at 7:37 AM on October 8, 2010

Best answer: I had this happen - we brought home two tiny stray kittens who actually didn't show the signs of ringworm, it was buried way under their fur. The kittens were sleeping in bed with us and were getting cuddles and hugs from us all day, as new kittens should. Within a few days my husband and I were COVERED in ringworm (like, it was really embarassing how much we had on our arms, neck, back, torso, you name it). We got jumbo tubes of cream for us and the kitties, washed the sheets, and confined the kitties to a spare bedroom until everyone was ringworm-free (maybe a week?). We never had any problems after that, although we did watch with curiousity to see if the first guest to stay in that spare bedroom got ringworm (she didn't). The cats continued to sleep in that room by choice for a few years, and never had a recurrence, fwiw.
posted by tryniti at 10:48 AM on October 8, 2010

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