Fungal skin infection

A condition where the skin can grow thick crusts of fungus. It can be in the ears and the rectum as well as the body. It usually starts as a bad case of dandruff and is transferable to other guinea pigs.

Treating a fungal skin infection can last up to four weeks or more. Wood often harbours fungal spores so the use of a wooden hutch, houses and toys during treatment are not recommended. Infected hutches etc should be disposed of.

What to do about a fungal skin condition

He should be kept in a plastic cage which should be disinfected daily during treatment.  Your guinea pig’s coat needs stripping of all fungal spores. His hair should come out easily with a gentle tug. The problem is that pulling out the hair can lead him to further scratching and fitting, so keep him indoors and smother him in aqueous or E45 cream. The next day strip as much of his coat as you can without putting him into a fit. He will look a poorly soul but it’s the only way.

If your guinea pig is causing lesions/ wounds to his body by scratching and/or biting, a bandage can be used to protect him. Vetrap, which is stretchy and self-sticking is recommended for this task, replacing daily. A small gauze square over wounds on his back can be used under the bandage. Dispose of bandage and gauze on removal by carefully cutting through it with scissors.

Get him on a course of Itrafungol from the vet at 0.5mls, twice daily. Combine this treatment with anti-fungal bathing, weekly for 3-4 weeks. We prefer to use Ring-o-cide or Sporal D available on-line or at some farm merchants. To tide you over you can use Nizarol from the chemist. Leave the shampoo on for 15 minutes before rinsing, tugging out as many hair roots as possible. A sheep dip, Imaverol from the vet can also be used to kill any remaining fungal spores. A topical spray would be Myconozole from the vet or Daktarin spray from the chemist.

Note: we always treat for mange at the same time as a fungal skin infection as it is almost impossible to tell them apart.

Causes of a fungal skin condition: poor hygiene: our damp climate or a damp enclosure, especially in an old wooden hutch which could harbour fungal spores: not enough grooming to get rid of dead hairs; skin and coat neglect.

Prognosis for a fungal skin condition: very good if done correctly but can take around four weeks. You must keep at it or it will return. We would recommend you burn your old wooden hutch.

Prevention of a fungal skin condition: check the skin and coat regularly. Brush out dead hairs. Treat for dry skin with Nizarol shampoo from the chemist. Bath regularly. Dispose of any old wooden hutches or toys as they may harbour fungal spores. Do not keep the guinea pig outside in damp conditions.

Case study: Trouper

Trouper is a black and ginger boar born in June 2013.  He was a year old when he arrived with an advanced systemic fungal condition. The treatment was long and laborious but we got there in the end!

On arrival he had to be split up from his companion as he was in a poor state with an advanced systemic fungal skin condition and was squealing and fitting. He was brought into the clinic, treatment lasted six weeks and he is now well.  He is currently on a course of enzymes to help balance his gut and we hope to find him a new forever home where he can get the love and care he deserves, after such a poor start in life.