Preventing & Treating Ringworm In Cattle: Tips & Vaccines

Published: November 9, 2023

Signs of ringworm on a black cow

Ringworm is a common skin infection caused by fungi, affecting animals, including cattle. Ringworm can cause circular areas of hair loss, thickened and flaky skin, and intense irritation in animals. In cattle, ringworm can be highly contagious and affect their health and well-being.

Preventing and treating ringworm in cattle is important for farmers and livestock managers. This article aims to provide tips and information on preventing and treating ringworm in cattle, including vaccines.

We will discuss the basics of ringworm, including its causes and symptoms and the different treatment options available. Furthermore, we will explore the importance of hygiene and overall animal health in preventing ringworm outbreaks.

By following these tips and utilizing available vaccines, farmers and livestock managers can minimize the risk of ringworm infections in their cattle and ensure their overall well-being.

Ringworm Basics

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by the spore-forming fungi trichophyton verrucosum and is commonly observed in cattle and humans. The infection is characterized by circular areas of hair loss, slightly thickened, crusty, flaky skin, and greyish color. The symptoms of ringworm can be differentiated from other skin infections by their circular shape and the presence of spores on the surface of the skin.

Ringworm is highly transmissible and can be spread from animal to animal through indirect and direct contact. Fungal spores can survive for a long time in the environment, increasing the risk of transmission.

Besides isolating affected animals, proper hygiene practices should be implemented to reduce the spread of infection.

Treatment Options

Topical treatments include fungicidal washes containing enilconazole or similar effectively manage skin infections caused by trichophyton verrucosum in affected animals. These washes are typically applied directly to the affected areas of the skin and are designed to kill the spores responsible for the infection. However, it is important to note that treating the whole animal is rare, so the disease often spreads to untreated areas of the skin. As such, it is recommended to isolate affected animals and practice good hygiene to reduce the spread of the disease.

While treatment options are available, it is worth noting that the infection could also resolve without treatment due to natural immunity and exposure to UV light. Lesions can persist for months if not treated, but weighing the benefits and risks of treatment before proceeding is important.

Additionally, good animal management practices, such as maintaining the general well-being of livestock and ensuring they are well-fed, can act against any challenge and prevent the development of ringworm in the first place.

Prevention and Vaccines

Preventions Tips

Maintaining good hygiene practices and promoting the general well-being of livestock are effective measures to reduce the incidence of trichophyton verrucosum infection in farm animals. This includes regular cleaning and disinfection of barns, equipment, and feeders, minimizing overcrowding, and providing adequate nutrition and ventilation. Additionally, animals should be monitored for any signs of infection, and those with lesions should be isolated and treated promptly to prevent the spread of the disease.

  • Disinfect barns and livestock pens: Ringworm fungus can survive in barns and livestock pens. Regularly disinfect these areas using a strong detergent followed by a 1:3 dilution of bleach and water. This helps eliminate any fungal spores and reduce the risk of infection.

  • Clean grooming equipment, show tacks, and feed buckets: Clean all show tacks, feed buckets, pails, and grooming equipment regularly. Use a bleach solution to disinfect these items, and make sure to properly oil and maintain all leather and grooming equipment. This helps prevent the spread of ringworm through contaminated equipment.

  • Reduce stocking density in pens: Overcrowding can increase cattle's risk of ringworm transmission. Maintain a lower stocking density in pens to minimize close contact between animals and reduce fungus spread.

  • Increase exposure to sunlight: Ringworm are not fans of UV light. Provide cattle with adequate exposure to sunlight, as sunlight has natural antifungal properties. This can help prevent the growth and spread of ringworm.

  • Maintain dry lots or pens: Moisture promotes the growth of ringworm fungus. Keep lots and pens dry by ensuring proper drainage and avoiding water accumulation. Dry environments are less favorable for the development of ringworm.

  • Removing Scabs: Removing flaky skin and scabs from the infected areas during washing is essential. If scabs are present over the ringworm, they act as a barrier, impeding the treatment's access to the infection and prolonging recovery. Before initiating topical treatment, finding a method to remove the scabs from the cow is necessary.

  • Dispose of scabs properly: You can securely place them in a garbage bag, ensuring no contact with other animals, or if you want to be extra cautious, you can burn them.


Vaccination effectiveness against ringworm in cattle has been demonstrated using Bovilis Ringvac. The vaccine is administered by intramuscular injection in two doses, two weeks apart, with immunity achieved three weeks after the second dose. Vaccination can reduce the incidence and severity of infection and hasten recovery in affected animals. However, it is important to note that vaccination should not replace good hygiene practices, as environmental spores can still pose a risk to unvaccinated animals.

A licensed veterinarian must prescribe vaccinations, and we recommend working with them to ensure that this is the best course of action based on your particular situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Trichophyton verrucosum?

Trichophyton verrucosum is a slow-growing dermatophyte (a common label given to a group of fungi that typically cause skin diseases) that causes fungal skin disease in cattle and ringworm in other animals such as donkeys, dogs, goats, sheep, and horses.

Human infection with Trichophyton verrucosum is more common in rural areas with frequent contact with animals and can cause severe inflammation.

Can ringworm be transmitted from cattle to other animals or pets?

Ringworm can be transmitted from cattle to other animals, pets, and even humans, as it is highly contagious and spreads via direct and indirect contact. There are risks of cross-species infections, and hygiene measures are important to prevent the spread of the disease.

Can cows get reinfected with ringworm?

Yes, cows can indeed get ringworm again. While they may develop immunity to a specific strand of ringworm they previously encountered, approximately 40 different species of fungi can cause ringworm. 

Immunity to one strand does not provide protection against other strains. Therefore, isolating infected cows and decontaminating the environment remains crucial to prevent the spread.

Are there any natural remedies or alternative treatments for ringworm in cattle?

No scientific evidence supports using herbal remedies or homeopathy for treating ringworm in cattle caused by trichophyton verrucosum. Topical fungicidal washes and vaccination remain the most effective options.

How long does it take for a ringworm infection to clear up with treatment?

Ringworm can last 2–4 weeks if you’re using a treatment and up to 9 or more months if naturally healing. Note that the duration of ringworm treatment depends on the infection's severity and the effectiveness of the antifungal medication, so the lengths stated are just best estimates. Lesions can persist for a considerable period if left untreated, but topical fungicidal washes can effectively resolve the infection in a shorter period of time.

Can ringworm be prevented by improving the nutrition and diet of cattle?

Limited evidence suggests that improving nutrition can prevent ringworm in cattle. Vaccination effectiveness has been known to protect against ringworm and hasten recovery.

How do I know when Ringworm is healed?

If you’ve regularly applied the prescribed cream to the affected area for a few weeks, you should see visible improvements over time. The areas affected will stop scabbing over and gradually fade away. When you see regrowth of hair, this is also another positive sign.

How long is ringworm contagious?

Ringworm remains contagious on surfaces for an extended period, potentially several months. Your barn and other related equipment must be cleaned regularly to prevent its spread. On an infected animal, ringworm remains contagious until the hair regrows within the affected area. 

Due to the risk of transmission, many cow shows have restrictions on animals without sufficient hair growth in the ringworm area. Bringing an infected animal to a show can infect others, limiting their ability to participate in subsequent shows.

Can ringworm infect pets?

Ringworm is contagious to all domesticated animals. If one of your cows becomes infected, they can transmit it to your cats, dogs, chickens, pigs, chickens, and even horses. To prevent the spread of ringworm, it is important to isolate the infected cow and take precautions with your other animals.

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