Ringworm or mange?

Out of the blue you notice your dog scratching himself and upon closer investigation you notice he is losing patches of hair as well. You wonder whether it could be ringworm or mange. It doesn’t matter whether it is either one of the two, your dog needs treatment as soon as possible.


Mange is caused by parasitic mites that burrow under the skin and cause itching and inflammation. There are four kinds of mange:

Demodectic mange is caused by the demodex mite burrowing into the hair follicle. Younger puppies contract the mites from their nursing mothers and demodectic mange is therefore normally diagnosed in younger dogs. In the beginning, you might see patches of hair loss on his face and the affected areas are rarely itchy. But if you leave it untreated more generalised lesions that are inflamed and crusty will appear. Cats can contract this kind of mange as well.

Sarcoptic mange or canine scabies is where mites infect areas like the tummy, chest, ears and elbows where there is less hair. This is extremely itchy and your dog might try his best to get rid of the itch. Sarcoptic mange is contagious to people and other pets.

Cheyletiella mange is another form of highly itchy mange and is caused by mites big enough to see with the naked eye. You’ll notice distinct flakes with a dry, scaly rash. It is also known as ‘walking dandruff’. Although common in dogs, cat and humans can also contract cheyletiella mange.

Notoedric mange is caused by notoedres mites and is a feline mange that can be passed on to humans and dogs. Normally starting on the ear margins, it may spread to the face and neck. If left untreated it may spread over the body, leaving large, balding patches. Severe scratching may break the skin and the open sores are susceptible to secondary infections.


Mange symptoms

The following symptoms may indicate mange:

  • Bald spots
  • Hair loss
  • Lesions
  • Scabbing
  • Red or sore skin
  • Itchiness



Where mange is caused by mites, ringworm is a fungus that can affect dogs and cats. It is transmitted through direct contact or contact with an object that contains spores. Younger animals and animals with low levels of immunity are more susceptible. You will notice circular lesions that start off small and increase over time. The round, balding patches may look inflamed and may itch.

Even if your other dogs don’t show signs of ringworm, it could be that they are carriers of the fungi.

Ringworm can also be transferred between animals and humans and should be treated immediately.


Ringworm symptoms

You might see all or some of the following symptoms:

  • Round, bald patches
  • Broken hair and poor coat condition
  • Red or sore skin
  • Dandruff
  • Skin crusting
  • Itchiness


5 tips to manage these conditions

  1. If you suspect any type of mange or ringworm, visit your vet for a proper diagnosis.
  2. Your vet will treat your pet accordingly. If it is mange, the treatment may consist of a medical dip, a topical cream, tablets or even injectable medication to kill the mites.

If it is ringworm, the treatment might be in the form of an antifungal topical cream gently rubbed onto the lesions, or maybe an oral antifungal if the condition is serious. Antifungal shampoos might also help.

  1. Your vet may also prescribe an anti-itch cream to stop the itching.
  2. If your vet suspects a secondary bacterial infection in the lesions, he will prescribe antibiotics.
  3. Sterilise your dog’s bedding, blankets, grooming equipment and toys with non-harmful chemicals and in very hot water. Remember to wear gloves when you apply treatment to your dog to prevent cross-contamination.

See the vet

Seeing that ringworm and mange share similar symptoms, it is important that you take your pet to the vet the moment that you notice any of these signs. Your vet will diagnose the problem and will prescribe the relevant treatment. Both ringworm and mange are highly contagious and can infect other animals and family members.


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