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About Betadine Use for Treatment of Ringworm in Cats

| Updated September 26, 2017

Although Betadine is sometimes used in the treatment of ringworm, it is not always effective alone. Most veterinarians use it primarily in antiseptic and presurgical scrubs, in addition to other treatments. The active ingredient, povidone-iodine, may comprise as much as 10 percent of the solution, and is a strong antiseptic. RIngworm spreads quickly from one creature to the next, and it grows rapidly in humid conditions. Cats can carry the disease, release and spread it without even showing signs of the fungus. Lesions must be confirmed as ringworm by a veterinarian, as lesions can be caused by many diseases.

Betadine Function

Betadine offers some antifungal properties, however, it primarily provides antisepsis of the area and may remove the flaky scales around the ringworm lesion in the cat. Removing these scales and flakes may prove beneficial in allowing topical treatments to make contact with the skin.

Identification Of Ringworm

Cats do not always display visible symptoms of ringworm. When visible signs do appear, they often appear as small lesions that grow considerably. The lesion can be ring-shaped, hence the name of the infection. Some cats develop small pustules within the infected area. The fungus is most often found on the ears, tail and head of felines, and can sometimes spread across the face to appear like a generalized skin disease.


Ringworm is highly contagious and should be treated immediately. In cats with small lesions, Betadine may be applied before a topical cream. In cats with widespread lesions, an oral and topical treatment may be administered. Long-haired cats are typically given an oral treatment whether the lesions are isolated or severe, and are most often times clipped. Lime-sulfur dips or medicated shampoos may also be administered depending on the severity of the fungal infection.

Prevention Of Spreading

Because of the contagiousness of ringworm, anything the cat may have come in contact with must be cleaned and sterilized. Vacuuming, dust-mopping and laundering all bedding or furniture the cat may have laid, walked or otherwise come in contact with may be infected. Ringworm spores can live for long periods and be carried in the air, therefore air-conditioning and heating ducts should be professionally vacuumed and cleaned. Replacing filters is also recommended. Using detergents followed by bleach solutions will disinfect and kill all spores.


Ringworm is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted to people. Those with weakened immune systems may be especially vulnerable, however, a strong immune system will not guarantee prevention. Use gloves when handling the infected cat, its bedding, clippers, litter and all other items. Betadine can cause skin and eye irritation and should not be used in a prolonged manner. Persians and Himalayans are particularly susceptible to the disease and can take years of diligent treatment to eliminate the fungus.