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Warning: Don't Leave Fungal Skin Issues to Chance

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Laura-CCC4

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With the permission of this pigs owner, I would like to use these pictures and the information I have learned, to highlight how mycotic (fungal) skin conditions that are not recognised and treated quickly, can become life threatening.

This pig came into my care for only a few hours, a temporary stop on his way to Vedra at the CCT. His condition was described in its earlier stages on the forum, the member was advised - by people including myself - that mites was possible, based on the symptoms described.

As it happens, the pig had a fungal skin infection, which, as it was not identified sooner, became severe. The humidity contributed to the rapid spread of the condition over the pigs body. His symptoms included:

- Heavy crusting of the skin (in places it was more like sand in texture);
- Widespread hair loss;
- Scabs and open lesions as a result of scratching;
- Seizures.

The following photos do not capture the true condition of the pig, look on it as a glimpse at how the symptoms can progress.









Treatment for this pig had to be intense and thorough; during bathing his remaining infected hair was pulled out, and he is now on antibiotics and an oral anti-fungal medication. His recovery is set to be a very long, slow process spanning many weeks.

Going back to the beginning, had this been identified and treated sooner, treatment would have been far less intense and stressful - for the pig and owner.

For a mild fungal skin complaint where symptoms are very mild and no open lesions are found, treatment may need only involve a bath in Nizoral or Alphosyl shampoo once a week for four weeks. Any infected hair must be pulled out while the pig is lathered up - to some this may sound barbaric, but it is not, for the simple fact that infected hair slides out of the hair follicles without resistance. If there is resistance when pulling on the hair, the hair does not need removing. Allow the shampoo to soak in for five minutes before rinsing the pig.

In cases where only one guinea pig in a group is showing symptoms, it is worth bathing all the other guinea pigs in the group in an anti-fungal shampoo at least once; however all guinea pigs will still need monitoring for any developing symptoms that suggest the fungal condition has spread.

Please note that this is not a fully comprehensive advice thread and further advice should always be sought if a fungal condition is diagnosed. Topics I have not covered here include: details of identifying fungal skin conditions, the treatment regime of severe fungal skin conditions, disinfecting cages/hutches/beddings/toys and the continuing aftercare required for fungal pigs.

This case should serve not only as a warning about how skin issues must be taken seriously, but it also goes to show how advice and opinions given on an internet forum are no replacement for a physical examination by someone competant in guinea pig skin issues (e.g. rodentologist/RHA, veterinarian).

Please don't let your guinea pig fall into into a life threatening condition, there is just no excuse. Not when there are people able to help, not when there is such a simple treatment plan that can stop this condition progressing.
 

flips

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Thankyou to both you and the owner for sharing these pictures with us. It is scary how quickly these things develop. I hope the piggy is healing well. x
 

Guinea-wiggles

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That's what my Shy has thanks to that stupid garden centre.
Thanks for highlighting this issue.
 

Claire W

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Thank you to you Laura and to the owner for showing us this photo.

By seeing this, I am so pleased I treated my girl when her fungal symptoms first appeared.

I do hope that the guinea pig in the photo makes a full recovery. My girl only had a small dry scab and that caused her discomfort so heaven knows what this pig must have gone through :(
 

Branston&Pickles

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Thanks for this post, it's very useful. Is it true some piggies are prone to it? I've never had it before in any of my piggies but when I adopted Rodney he had it (very slight) on his ear, Suzy showed me how to treat it and he's fine now but we think he might be prone to it.
 

Laura-CCC4

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If they have had a fungal condition at any stage before, then yes, they are prone to it flaring up again. To prevent flare ups:

- No exposure to direct sunlight;
- No woodshavings/sawdust;
- Bath routinely in an anti-fungal shampoo (especially in warm/humid weather).

There is much much more to the topic of mycosis than I have included in this thread, the aim is primarily to highlight how serious these conditions can become.

I should also link to another thread of mine regarding systemic fungal infections:
http://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=48702
Any guinea pig with a fungal skin issue is also at risk of it becoming systemic.
 

flintstones

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How long was this pig left untreated to get too this stage?

(Ie: when did they notice something was wrong and when did they seek treatment? )
 

Laura-CCC4

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The pigs owner would have to confirm the timescale. However according to forum posts the timescale may have been under two weeks from the first scab being noticed.
 

Laura-CCC4

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It's likely the problem existed for some time before any symptoms were noticed, and as I said I can only go on the info that's been given, but once the scabs start appearing you do need to get the problem dealt with swiftly.
 

lexybee91

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Thankyou laura, if I can bring Genga to you sometime next week could you treat him for me, I don't think I could pull his hair out :'( xx
 

lexybee91

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Thankyou laura, if I can bring Genga to you sometime next week could you treat him for me, I don't think I could pull his hair out :'( xx
 

missy

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Any guinea pig with a fungal skin issue is also at risk of it becoming systemic.
Generally speaking, in every case, is it pretty much inevitable that it would eventually become systemic if the fungal skin was left untreated (or not treated fully/properly) for long enough? How long would it be before it became systemic? That's probably a hard question to answer but I'm just curious about approx timescales.

I really hope that the poor piggy in this particular case heals up very quickly and makes a full recovery. Those sores look....well....extremely sore :(
 

Dindypig

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I concur wholehartedly with Laura that fungal attacks can be lethal. When we first got Dindy, the vet didn't give her much hope. She was bald down bothe sides with open sores caused by scratching and biting. She was so disstressed with the itching etc that she used to fit. When you see a Piggie fitting it makes youre heart stop, it's so frightening. The 'vest' you see her wearing was something that I found on Peter Gurney's website, it was used to stop her ripping her wounds open, you can just see a bit of raw skin behind he shoulder poking out from under the vest. Sadly PG is no longer with us but he was a great friend of Vedra's and did a lot of good work with her. Please, never leave a fungal attack to get a serious grip on your Piggie.
 

Laura-CCC4

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Generally speaking, in every case, is it pretty much inevitable that it would eventually become systemic if the fungal skin was left untreated (or not treated fully/properly) for long enough? How long would it be before it became systemic? That's probably a hard question to answer but I'm just curious about approx timescales.
Yes. Any pig with a fungal skin condition is at risk of having a systemic fungal problem, whether that be just oral fungal, or a deeper systemic issue which would be suggested by weight loss/inability to gain weight, for example. When they groom themselves, the fungal spores are likely to be ingested, which can lead to a systemic issue.

It's worth bearing in mind that any pig with a fungal skin issue, however mild, could benefit from a course of Daktarin Oral Gel to prevent or treat the progression of a systemic fungal issue, alongside the treatment of the skin of course.

Dindypig - thank you for sharing your experiences and picture too, for others to add more personal experiences of severe fungal skin issues to this thread is invaluable.
 

Lisajazz

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Excellent advice! I just wanted to add that if you have multiple cages take care! I had a rescue pig in with fungla who quickly passed it onto another - she got it on her face which wasn't nice at all and quite hard to get to safely.

I thought I was careful with using gloves, washing hands etc but still in a different room another pair got it and needed treatment, thankfully their case was very mild as I caught it fast. I am on alert for others getting it and in the process of fungal preventative baths.So take care dealing with multiple cages if one has fungal in it. Always deal with that cage last then change clothing, throw away the gloves and wash!
 

sandra turpin

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What an excellent informative post this but really sad too when you see the suffering of the piggy. I am a new guinea pig owner and my biggest concern is that not being very confident I might miss something. I would hate to be the cause of my boys suffering in anyway. Is there something that can be done as a preventative measure?

I hope the piggy in the photos makes a full recovery.
 

sandra turpin

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What an excellent informative post this but really sad too when you see the suffering of the piggy. I am a new guinea pig owner and my biggest concern is that not being very confident I might miss something. I would hate to be the cause of my boys suffering in anyway. Is there something that can be done as a preventative measure?

I hope the piggy in the photos makes a full recovery.
 

Laura-CCC4

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I would hate to be the cause of my boys suffering in anyway. Is there something that can be done as a preventative measure?
I'm glad you found the post helpful Sandra. The post I made detailing a few rules about fungal pigs being prone to flare ups can also be applied as preventative measures:

- No exposure to direct sunlight;
- No woodshavings/sawdust;
- Bath routinely in an anti-fungal shampoo (especially in warm/humid weather).

How routinely, at least once every 2-3 months, more often in summer. In winter extra care must be taken, pigs must not be taken outdoors until fully dry, although I would not expect most piggies to be living outdoors through the winter. Indeed a guinea pig suffering any skin condition in this weather, especially one as severe as the pig in the photos, should be kept indoors all winter. It can take many weeks just for the hair to grow back, and a pig that is missing hair must not be subjected to cold and fluctuating temperatures (one reason skinny pigs/baldwins require specialist care).

Which anti-fungal shampoo, well I have had success with Nizoral, and have heard that Alphosyl and Polytar are also suitable. I personally favour Nizoral.
 

clairelove

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Laura what treatment do you use for fungal?

i have rodney here with fungal he has the nizoral baths has has canesten cream in between, it seems to clear but with in 2 days he has developed patches every where on him again, he had another bath last night and hair pluck:(

i will treat him for systemic thrush, but do you use any other treatment between the baths?

i have to say i am finding rodney a very big challenge:...:...:...
 
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