One day we got a cute new kitten with a small bald patch on one ear. I did not think much of it, but I started to get a little worried when that bald patch spread down our cute Missy’s face.
Very soon my kids one by one got a strange skin rash that was itchy and raised in the shape of small, red rings. Some had a red centre, others didn’t. And then I got one, too.
I soon found out that we were dealing with “ring worm” – which actually is not a worm, but a fungus.
Apparently cats get ringworm from the mice they catch, and while the infection is self-limiting in most cats, and resolves in 3 to 5 months, it sometimes spreads to the whole body, causing great misery and can even result in death.
Dogs can get it, too. So can cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, rodents, rabbits and birds.
It is obviously highly contagious through touch. You can even get it from the soil.
Ringworm in humans (tinea in medicalese) usually affects the skin on the body, the scalp or chin (recognizable by the bald spots, including in a beard), the feet (also called athlete’s foot), or the groin (also called jock itch). Athlete’s foot and jock itch are very common because this fungus likes warm and moist areas.
Ours, however, were mostly located on the neck, hands, arms and legs – from cuddling the kitten. It can affect you anywhere, really, even on the face or toe/finger nails (especially under artificial finger nails).
As a “first thought” we got Missy topical cream containing clotrimazole as well as oral meds from the vet, but these things did not seem to help much. I guess we didn’t try long enough, as my faith in chemical meds is almost non-existent. Not only have I always hated chemical meds, I was also told that this topical treatment must continue for 2 to 4 weeks. But I like to get healed fast if possible (and without side effects), so I went in search of a natural remedy for all of us.
We found quite a few suggestions. One of them was to treat the rash with lemon juice.
Luckily it was summer, so we spent a whole day on the porch dabbing the rash with lemon juice. But either it didn’t work or we did something wrong.
Next we tried spraying on colloidal silver. Same lack of results.
Finally we tried ordinary vinegar.
After trying the spraying method again I changed tactics. I saturated a cotton swab in vinegar and held it in place over a lesion. It stung somewhat for about half a minute, but then both the sting and the itch were gone!
I repeated the process after about 15 minutes, when the itch returned. This time the sting was gone faster, as was the itch. It felt as though the fungus was fighting to stay alive, but had to succumb to my secret weapon – the vinegar. The redness of the lesion started fading. I repeated the treatment again after an hour or so (the itch took longer to return), and kept this up for the rest of the day. The lesion had almost cleared the next day, but I repeated the treatment a few times throughout the day just to be sure.
I treated my kids the same way, or rather taught them what to do (encouraging them to endure the stinging like good little soldiers), and their rashes cleared up, too. They were very brave about it. Apart from the stinging there were no side effects whatsoever, and the ring worm never did return.
We also held down the kitten and pressed a cotton pad saturated with vinegar around the bald spot on her ear and around her nose (being careful to avoid the eyes), spending a minute or so at a time in that position. She didn’t like it of course (due to the stinging no doubt), but after a while seemed to get used to it and stopped struggling (probably the stinging had ceased). I like to think that she understood that we were helping her. And yes, she, too was freed of the ring worm marks and grew up to a life free of that fungal infection.
The stray kitten an acquaintance of mine took in was not so lucky. He took her to the vet for help, and the vet said she was too far gone and had her put down. If only they had known about the vinegar remedy! I would have tried vinegar baths – bathing body parts (not the whole body at once) so as not to give too great a stinging shock all at once.
Later I met an acquaintance who had a strange, very itchy rash on her arm. She had spent a month visiting doctors, and lots of money buying all the creams they recommended, but nothing worked. When I saw the rash I recognized it right away. It was ringworm, of course – and the size of the bottom of a drinking glass.
Straight away I went to get a cotton pad, drenched it with apple cider vinegar (which happened to be around then – but any vinegar will do), and asked her to press it to her arm. She said it stung, but after about a minute the stinging stopped, and so did the itch. We repeated the process after 20 minutes or so, and then she left with instructions to continue this treatment in regular intervals (or at least whenever she felt the itch come on again). When I called the next day to ask what happened, she told me that the lesion wasn’t all gone (I wasn’t surprised given its age and size), but the vinegar was definitely helping. I recommended continuing the treatment and a few days later she called me to say that her arm was completely healed!
It is one the best feelings in the world to be able to help others with the help you have received or discovered for yourself!
I hope that if you or your pets ever have ring worm you will find this page (or a similar one), and enjoy a quick, almost painless and side-effect-free healing (not to mention virtually free!).