You have been working with your calf all winter, getting the hair just to pop the way you want it to. Then one day, you go out to the barn and you find the dreaded spot with no hair. What is it? Could it be ringworm? Yes, but what exactly is ringworm?

Ringworm is not caused by worms, as the name suggests but rather by a fungus or fungi called Trichophyton verrucosum. These fungi spores can live in dry conditions for years. That is why sometimes, you can for a long time without an outbreak and then in an instant, your calf suddenly has ringworm again.What does ringworm look like? The spots are like lesions, which are characteristically distinct, scaling patches of hair loss with gray-white crust formation, but some become thickly crusted.  Ringworm is most frequent on the head and neck, but it may be found over the entire body in severe cases. Infection spreads from the center outwards and resulting in a circular lesion.  Scabs fall from older lesions leaving a ring with a hairless area in the center.  This is why it is called ringworm.

 What are some of the best methods for dealing with ringworm? There are many home remedies and many over the counter products.  One of the best recommendations is to remove the crusted area with a wire brush or in a similar fashion. Iodine, bleach, any fungicide used to treat athlete’s foot in people can be used. Also suggested are female health products that treat fungus or even toothpaste. Use these products several times daily until the crust is no longer present. Also there are certain products available to specifically treat ringworm, such as Sullivan’s Fungus Fighter and FungALL. Just remember, ringworm is contaigious and can be passed from you calf to you. When you are treating the areas, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands throughly.After you have treated the spots, you need to start growing the hair back. Many people have found that if they keep the area moist, the hair regrows more successfully. Fluid Flim, a spray found at many tractor places is a helpful product. Also some people swear on something as simple as bacon grease. Keep working the area and soon you will have hair growing again.

How do I prevent ringworm? Good habits are very important to help prevent an outbreak of ringworm. When ever I go to a show, I wash my calves in an antifungal shampoo after I’m home. I also spray an antifungal product on show equipment, brushes, clipper heads and anything else that might come into contact with animals that have ringworm. There is not a vaccination available on the market to prevent ringworm, so you need to keep one step ahead of it.

Good luck with preventing and taking care of any ringworm outbreaks you may have. Winter months are a very high risk time to have an outbreak.  Now you are armed with the information on how to indentify and treat it.