Lime Sulfur Shampoo
(Another Weapon to Use in the Fight against Ringworm)

by Madeleine Saunders
Stepp'nStone Persians

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EDITOR'S NOTE: If you prefer not to make a homemade shampoo, there is a commercial lime sulfer dip/shampoo available called LymDip For Pets

Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection of the skin typically seen in young cats, long-haired cats, and cats under stress or in poor health. The lesions are usually circular areas of hair loss (hence the name) with the skin often appearing scaly and inflamed. Some infected cats exhibit severe infection while others show only minor lesions, or none at all.

Because the microscopic ringworm spores are passed directly from cat to cat or indirectly from contaminated objects in the environment, any time your cat comes in contact with other cats, there is a risk of exposure. Ringworm is out there in the show halls, so each time you show, there is a chance you may return home with more than ribbons and grand points. Once infected, eliminating ringworm from a cattery can be a real challenge.

No one alerted me to the risk of Ringworm when I first started showing... and what a mess that led to. The first time I saw ringworm on a cat I was grooming a beautiful new flamepoint male for his first kitten show the next day. I saw a red pimple on the back of his neck. The next morning a big patch of hair had come out... and that was it... trouble, trouble, trouble...

Madeleine Saunders, Stepp'nStone Persians

But there are steps you can take to protect your show babies. Shampoo before the show with a product that contains a "skin guard". Shampoo after the show with an anti-fungal shampoo. Wash show curtains, bedding, etc. after each show.

One of the best shampoos you can use against Ringworm is of the homemade variety: It is called Lime Sulfur Shampoo.

Lime Sulfur is a liquid sprayed on plants as a pesticide/fungicide.
It is usually yellow in color and has a strong sulfur odor.
It is available inexpensively at most garden stores.

Making Lime Sulfur Shampoo

Ingredients:

  • 23% lime sulfur liquid
  • your favorite general purpose shampoo

The Recipe :

  • 1 ounce lime sulfur liquid
  • 5 ounces shampoo
  • 2 ounces water
  1. It is important to use garden lime sulfur liquid that is labeled 23% solution.
  2. Take your shampoo base and dilute it with the water first, mixing it well.
  3. Add the lime sulfur to the shampoo-water solution. Mix well. If necessary, add enough water to make a semi-thick easily spread shampoo.
  4. Lime sulfur is a bright yellow - and so will your shampoo be :-)
  5. Some people prefer to wear gloves as the mixture may stain or dry out your hands.

Bathing Instructions:

  1. If your cat's hair is dry or in poor condition, give it a moisturizing/conditioning treatment prior to the lime sulfur bath.
  2. Place the cat in a deep laundry or kitchen sink and using the spray hose, wet the cat's coat thoroughly.
  3. Pour a trail of shampoo from the nape of the cat's neck, down the back to the tip of the tail.
  4. Work the shampoo into the coat, adding water to help spread it through the hair.
  5. Be generous. You want every hair and all the skin to be soaked in the shampoo.
  6. Use your fingers to massage the shampoo into the inside and outside of the ears, around the mouth, under the chin.
  7. Tip the cat's head back and work the shampoo into the forehead, taking care to avoid getting any into the eyes.
  8. Use a toothbrush to scrub the shampoo around your cat's nails and between the toes.
  9. If your cat is badly infected with fungus, allow the mixture to sit on the coat for 5 minutes.
  10. Rinse lightly.
  11. Hold the head back during rinsing to avoid getting any of the shampoo into the eyes. Use a face cloth to help remove any shampoo residue.
  12. Unlike a normal bath, you want to leave a residue of the lime sulfur shampoo, so take care not to rinse your cat too well. The rinse water will just run clear, but your cat will still have a yellow tinge to its coat. This color disappears after a few hours.

Drying:

  1. Squeeze as much of the water from the coat with your hands as possible.
  2. Do not towel dry the cat. You want the coat to dry with as much residue on the coat as possible.
  3. Dry the inside of the ears and around the eyes.
  4. Blow dry the cat. Until the coat is dry, do not allow the cat to lick itself.

Bathing Schedule:

  1. Repeat in 5 days.
  2. Repeat again in 5 days.
  3. Assess the skin condition after another 5 days and if necessary, repeat again.
  4. Continue to bath the cat every 10-14 days until the skin is completely clear of scabs.

The Maintenance Bath:

  1. Once the skin is clear of any lesions shampoo your cat once a month, rinsing completely and drying as you would normally as part of a maintenance program.
  2. At the same time as you are bathing, you must clean the environment of the fungal spores.

Final Tips :

  • Do not make the shampoo stronger than recommended in this article. Stronger solutions may burn the skin.
  • Sometimes lime sulfur is sold in a kit with an oil to blend with it to spray orchard trees. Do not mix the lime sulfur with the oil when using it in a cat shampoo. Discard the oil.
  • You must shampoo all areas of the cat including around the mouth, eyes, ears, and feet.
  • A bit of lime sulfur may be added to your regular show shampoo as a preventative against ringworm at the shows.
  • The yellowness of the lime sulfur fades quickly so do not panic if the first time you use it on your cat, your cat appears yellow right after the bath.
  • After I rinse the lime sulfur shampoo lightly out of the coat I give my show cats a quick generous rub with conditioner into the wet fur and very lightly rinse it off - that prevents drying of their coats.
  • There is very little staining with the shampoo as compared to doing a lime sulfur dip.
  • The shampoo leaves the coat shiny with a nice finish.
  • Expect to spend a month OR WHATEVER TIME IT TAKES to cure fungus with this method.
    Skin takes time to heal - so keep on top of it.
  • Even if only one cat shows ringworm lesions, all cats must be treated and the environment cleaned.

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