Ringworm can affect just about anyone. However, it can also show up in your pet rats, which is communicable to humans. That needn't be a big concern, however. Though uncomfortable and unsightly, ringworm is fairly easy to cure with proper treatment. And with prompt action you may be able to avoid catching ringworm from your pet.
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is caused by a type of fungus called Dueteromycetes. Also known as dermatomycosis, ringworm shows up as a round lesion on the skin typically at the point of contact. A specific kind of fungi infects mice and rats called Tricopyton mentragrophytes; however, just about any kind of fungus that causes ringworm can cause a breakout.
How Do Rats Get Ringworm?
Since ringworm isn't common in rats, it's interesting to try and figure out where they were exposed. For the most part, ringworm spreads to rats from cats. If you have a pet cat that has ringworm or if you've petted a cat that has it you may inadvertently spread the fungus to your rats. Your rats may break out and then most likely you will too, making it seem like the rats were the initial cause.
How Ringworm Transfers from Rats to People
Ringworm is easily transmittable. You merely need to come in contact with an infected person's skin or clothing and you may develop the lesions. If you have pet rats with ringworm touching them is enough to set off an outbreak. Cleaning their cage or bedding may also put you in contact with the fungus.
Symptoms of ringworm in rats is virtually the same as it is in humans. Scaly marks or lesions are the most common sign. These may have edges that crust over. Hair loss may be present. On rats the most common breakout spots include the back and the base of the tail. Other symptoms include areas of the skin that are scabby or elevated. Itching is another tell-tale sign.
Treatment for ringworm is fairly straightforward. To treat rats wash the effected area with a mild cleanser. Then apply an antifungal lotion that contains clotrimazole. This can be applied up to twice a day; however, make sure the medication you purchase is suitable for rats. Oral applications are also available. Dips may also be used, like 2 percent lime sulfur, but take care not to get the treatment in your pet's eyes. To treat ringworm in humans you can try over-the-counter antifungal creams like Lotramin or Tinactin to ease the itchiness and help the lesions heal.