Guinea pigs are prone to many skin conditions, but one of the most common ones you’ll likely face as a guinea pig owner is ringworm.
This unpleasant infection is not only uncomfortable for guinea pigs, but it can be passed onto humans if you don’t take appropriate action. Both my piggies had a nasty case of ringworm a couple of years ago.
It was awful seeing them in so much discomfort, but through my care and treatment, they managed to fight it off before it had a chance to progress.
If you suspect your pet has ringworm, don’t delay in treating them. Here’s everything you need to know about guinea pig ringworm so you can get your tiny companion on the mend as soon as possible.
What Is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a common fungal infection that can occur in guinea pigs and other animals, including humans.
What Causes Ringworm in Guinea Pigs?
Ringworm in guinea pigs is caused by a microsporum species of fungus, usually the Microsporum canis or Trichophyton mentagrophytes fungus not a parasitic worm.
DID YOU KNOW
Despite what its name suggests, ringworm infection is not caused by a parasitic worm.
Where Do They Get It From?
Guinea pigs can get ringworm from other guinea pigs, as well as from their environment, including bedding and toys if they are contaminated. If you haven’t had your guinea pig very long and suspect they have ringworm, they’ve more than likely caught it from their cage mates at their previous home.
Before you introduce a new guinea pig to your existing herd, it’s important you check the new guinea pig for signs of illness and disease.
You should also quarantine them for a few weeks as a precaution, especially as infections like ringworm are highly contagious.
What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Guinea Pig?
What does ringworm in guinea pigs look like? Guinea pigs infected with ringworm will have bald patches that usually appear around their head, especially around their eyes, ears, and nose.
See what ringworm looks like below…
As the infection progresses, the bald spots will often spread to the back. The bald patches can look flaky, crusty, and generally irritated.
Alongside loss of fur, another common symptom of ringworm in guinea pigs is excessive scratching.
How Long Does a Guinea Pig Have Ringworm?
There’s no set duration for ringworm infections in guinea pigs – some minor cases will clear up within around 10 days of treatment, others can take several weeks or even longer.
As long as you’re taking good care of your guinea pig and keeping their environment clean, the infection should eventually resolve itself. If the condition does not get better try to consult a veterinarian.
How Long Is Ringworm Contagious?
Ringworm is contagious for as long as the lesions on your guinea pig’s body are present.
Due to how transmissible the infection is between humans and other animals, you should use extreme caution when handling your pet for the duration of their treatment (more on this below!).
Can You Get Ringworm from a Guinea Pig?
Ringworm can be transmitted to humans, as well as other animals, which is why you need to be very careful when handling your pet and cleaning their habitat while they are infected.
Make sure to wear gloves when handling your infected guinea pig and cleaning their environment, especially when cleaning the guinea pig litter box.
Even if you use disposable gloves, make sure to still wash your hands with warm water and plenty of soap afterwards.
If you have young children in your household, don’t let them touch the infected guinea pig or cage until the infection has cleared up and the habitat has been fully cleaned.
How to Diagnose Ringworm in Guinea Pigs
If you think your guinea pig has ringworm, get them checked over at a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your pet to diagnose ringworm in guinea pigs or to check if they have another illness/disease.
Guinea Pig Ringworm Treatment
Once your veterinarian has diagnosed your guinea pig with ringworm, they will prescribe a treatment to help clear up the infection.
Alternatively, if you’re 100% sure your guinea pig has ringworm infection and can’t get to a veterinarian, you can manage it using the various treatments listed below.
One of the most common treatments for a fungal infection like ringworm in guinea pigs is oral antifungal medicine. Your veterinarian will tell you how often to administer the medicine and how long for, so be sure to follow their advice.
Medicated shampoos designed for small animals are sometimes prescribed for ringworm infections to help loosen up any debris located in the skin lesions.
This soothes the guinea pig’s skin and makes your pet feel a bit more comfortable.
Medicated shampoos for guinea pigs should be applied weekly for around 3 to 4 weeks.
In addition to oral antifungal medicine, topical antifungal creams are often used to treat ringworm in guinea pigs.
The ointment is applied to affected areas and any crusty or bald patches on your guinea pig’s body, usually for around 7 to 10 days.
Do I Need to Disinfect the Cage?
While your guinea pig still has ringworm, make sure you are keeping on top of cage maintenance and hygiene to prevent reinfection or the fungal infection from getting worse.
Once your guinea pig’s ringworm infection has healed, you’ll need to disinfect and sanitize their cage and any objects they’ve touched to help prevent reinfection. Use a pet-safe disinfectant for this, as well as an odor-free dish soap and warm water.
If you can’t find a pet-safe disinfectant, you can make your own using distilled white vinegar and water.
I Have Other Guinea Pigs – Do I Need to Treat Them Too?
If you notice signs of ringworm in one of your guinea pigs, move them to a separate cage if possible to prevent the infection from spreading to your other pets.
However, chances are, if one of your cavies gets ringworm, the rest of them will catch it due to how contagious the infection is.
You’ll likely have to treat your entire herd.
Keep a close eye on your other cavies and be on the lookout for any symptoms like bald patches and excessive scratching.
Should You Bathe a Guinea Pig with Ringworm?
Guinea pigs with ringworm can be bathed with a pet-safe shampoo. Doing so can actually help loosen off debris on the lesions, which helps flush out any bacteria or dirt.
That said, guinea pigs shouldn’t be bathed too often (once a month at most) as their skin is very sensitive. Washing your pet excessively can also strip their fur of its natural oils, causing skin irritation and dryness. This will only make ringworm infections worse.
Does Ringworm Go Away on Its Own?
Ringworm can go away on its own if you take good care of your guinea pig and keep their environment clean.
However, treating ringworm using antifungal medicines and ointments will help your pet fight off the infection much sooner, which in turn, reduces the risk of you catching it.
How Can Ringworm Be Prevented?
Ringworm can be prevented simply by keeping your guinea pig’s environment clean, including their toys, food bowls, guinea water bottles, etc., clean and sanitized.
Guinea pigs under stress from overcrowding, malnutrition, and dirty living quarters are more at risk of developing the infection, as well as other health issues.
Additionally, fungus thrives in damp and dirty conditions, so by keeping your cavy’s habitat hygienic, you can help keep ringworm infections at bay.
Any new guinea pigs should be quarantined for a few weeks before being introduced to your existing herd too.
Although unpleasant, ringworm is easily treated and managed in guinea pigs. Complications associated with the infection are extremely rare, so chances are, your pet will recover in no time with good care and treatment.
However, as ringworm is easily transmissible to other animals and humans, make sure to protect yourself by wearing disposable gloves and washing your hands thoroughly after handling any guinea pig with ringworm.
Try not to be too hard on yourself if your pet catches ringworm – it’s extremely common. Most guinea pig owners will run into it at some point, but it’s seldom serious.
Feel Free To Share!
I hope I helped you learn more about guinea pig ringworm and how to treat it, but if there’s anything you’re still unsure of, let me know in the comments!
If you’re in need of any more advice on guinea pigs or looking for top-notch piggy equipment recommendations, take a look at our other helpful guides, such as this article about the guinea pig diet or this review of guinea pig carriers.