Eczema or dry skin on a guinea pig can be related to the cleanliness of her living environment, her diet and water intake, or it could be a sign of a health problem that needs veterinary medical attention. Eczema may look like dandruff, or miniscule white flakes on her coat or skin. The condition is more noticeable on a dark-haired guinea pig than on a light or white-haired variety.
Dry, Flaky Skin
If your guinea pig has eczema, it may mean she's not getting enough water or greens in her diet. It could also be a sign that you're not changing her bedding frequently enough, or that the household environment is extra dry. Talk to your vet about possible changes to your pig’s diet, adding an essential oil supplement or utilizing a humidifier to put more moisture into the air. This can improve the condition of your guinea pig’s skin as well as your own.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that guinea pigs can be susceptible to. It can present in the form of hair loss or flaky skin patches in a circular shape. This fungal infection can be passed between guinea pigs, and between your pig and humans, so veterinary attention is required. In most instances, your vet will prescribe an antifungal medication. If the flakiness has become severe and your pig scratches and breaks the skin, it can result in infection, which may require antibiotic treatment.
Parasitic infections can present in a guinea pig as eczema, particularly skin mites. You may find your guinea pig scratching or biting at her skin, which can potentially lead to further irritation. Some parasitic infections require oral medical treatment, while others can be treated with topical products. Your vet will advise you on the best course of action to address the problem and to take steps to avoid a future outbreak. If you have a multi-pig household, your vet may recommend seeing your other pigs to ensure all are treated.
While some shedding is normal in a guinea pig, excessive shedding, patchy hair loss or scabs can be an indicator of an underlying health condition or parasite. Eczema paired with scratching and shedding could also be a sign that your guinea pig has a skin allergy. See a vet to rule out health problems and seek treatment advice.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.