Guinea Pig Skin Issues

On May 13th, 2020, I noticed my guinea pig’s ear was very dry but did some googling, slapped some Vaseline on her ear, and it cleared up rather quick. On May 14th, I noticed a bump on her head and after investigating it (and her biting me from investigating it), it looked like a dry bump with some blood. Of course, I freaked out. “What happened to my baby?!” I had recently introduced a new guinea pig to her cage and thought maybe it was from a fight I hadn’t noticed earlier. I noticed the bump late at night so I figured I would check back on it in the morning and make a decision then. I woke up and it had gotten larger and was missing fur. I panicked.

Mocha’s ringworm early on.

In any other circumstance, I would have taken her to the vet. However, we’re currently in the middle of a pandemic and getting an appointment for an exotic pet quickly isn’t easy. One of my favorite YouTubers, Scotty’s Animals, actually had a video dedicated to ringworm’s and it seemed to fit exactly what my guinea pig was experiencing and gave some helpful tips. The first thing I had noticed with my guinea pig is that her skin was thick, tough, and dry which are the signs of ringworm. There was some white crust that was forming and that is what set me on the anti ringworm path. Taking his advice, I ran to Walmart to start my at-home treatment for it. I gave her an antifungal bath using Head & Shoulders where I soaked her ringworm in order to naturally get the crust off without hurting her. It came off rather easily because I caught it so early. The reason why it was recommended to use Head & Shoulders is because it has an ingredient called pyrithione zinc, which makes all the crust come off right away in the bath and left soft, exposed skin behind.

The next step was to use anti fungal cream that had tolnaftate in it. It was recommended that I used a paintbrush to apply it but my guinea pig despised it so I had to frantically rub it in with a finger. This is something that I will have to do with her every single day. I have to apply the anti fungal cream to her head every morning and I have to soak the ringworm in Head & Shoulders every other day. Because I’m just a paranoid pet owner and I had found some crust forming under her armpit, I gave her a full body soak in Head & Shoulders rather than just washing the top of her head. This way, I could feel her entire body to make sure it isn’t spreading and it’s just easier for me to make sure the main spot is soaked.

Mocha’s ringworm after using Tolnaftate. It caused the scabbing to go away but not the fur to grow back or the itching to stop.

With the pandemic still in full swing, I made an appointment for the following week. If it cleared up, I could cancel. If it got worse or didn’t improve, I would go. Unfortunately, it didn’t get better. I ultimately went to a vet. She ended up having really soft poops around the time we took her so it worked out in our favor that I had made that appointment. He recommended a different antifungal cream called Miconazole and gave us oral medication for her poops. The Miconazole, little did we know, is the same stuff used for a vaginal yeast infection so that was awkward to buy for a guinea pig. It cleared up her ringworm in less than a week, so it was worth it. She has a full head of fur once again and her personality improved greatly! Her poops got better even faster than her ringworm.

This made me realize that, no matter how tight money is, health is most important. Guinea pigs are tricky, fragile animals so taking the best care of them means not prolonging vet attention. I regret trying to go the cheap route with using YouTube because I ended up buying something that didn’t even work for her. Luckily, our vet was great and realized we were part of the people who were overprotective of their new quarantine pet so he didn’t charge us for a lot of it. It ended up being a total of $125 to assess her and for the cost of her oral medication. This event prepared me for a much more serious event, documented in my more recent posts.

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