Various types of skin diseases, such as mites and ringworm, can affect hamsters. Most of these skin conditions are caused by parasites or an infection. A skin condition can make a hamster very uncomfortable. Once you recognize a skin problem in a hamster, take him to the vet and carefully follow all treatment instructions.
Method 1 of 3: Treat Skin Mites in Hamsters
Step 1. Take the hamster to the vet
Mites are one of the most common skin diseases in hamsters. Your vet will diagnose mites by lightly scraping the hamster's skin with a scalpel and looking at it under a microscope. You can also brush the hamster while holding a piece of white paper to catch the mites. The vet will then view them under a microscope.
There are two species of mites that can affect hamsters. One of the species, Demodex criceti, is fairly easy to see, and the mites will appear thin and long when viewed under a microscope
Step 2. Isolate the hamster
If you have multiple hamsters, isolate the one with the mites until the treatment is complete. Mites are contagious, so you don't want healthy hamsters to develop a mite problem. If multiple hamsters are affected, treat them all at the same time.
Step 3. Treat the hamster as prescribed by the vet
There are several treatments available to treat mites. One treatment is medicated shampoo. However, hamsters do not like baths too much, so the hamster may resist bathing with the medicated shampoo. Another treatment is a medicinal ointment that you must apply to the affected areas of the skin.
- Oral ivermectin, which kills parasites, is a treatment option. Place the prescribed number of ivermectin drops in the hamster's mouth.
- Anti-mite sprays are available as an over-the-counter treatment. Talk to your vet before using an over-the-counter medicine on your hamster.
- A full body soak is recommended for severe mite infestations. This dip should be done with a medicinal bath product that contains ivermectin. The vet will explain how to do this dive at home.
Step 4. Repeat the treatment, if necessary
Old hamsters and those with weak immune systems may need to be treated for mites more than once. Talk to your vet before repeating the treatment.
Step 5. Clean the hamster's cage
Hamsters can catch mites from the material on the floor of their cage. Therefore, cleaning and disinfecting the hamster's cage is essential in treating mites. First, remove everything from the cage and dump the material off the ground. Wash the entire interior of the cage with hot soapy water and a sponge or scrub brush.
- Wash all cage accessories (food container, water bottle, plastic toys, etc.) in hot, soapy water.
- Use a special disinfectant for hamster cages, which you can find at most local pet stores. Sanitize the cage and the accessories in it according to the instructions on the product label.
- Let everything dry before putting the items back in the cage. Use a fresh, clean flooring material.
Method 2 of 3: Treat Ringworm in Hamsters
Step 1. Have a vet diagnose ringworm
The term "ringworm" is misleading because ringworm is actually caused by fungi (Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Microsporum). If your hamster has ringworm, you will see sparse areas where the skin looks crisp, scaly, and red. The vet will diagnose ringworm by looking at the affected skin with a special lamp and examining part of the hamster's skin under a microscope.
- The affected areas of the skin look like rings.
- Ringworm is common in older hamsters.
Step 2. Follow the treatment instructions
There are several treatment options available for ringworm. One option is medicated shampoo, which contains povidone-iodine (antibacterial) or an antifungal medication. Consider trimming the hamster's fur before bathing for the most effective shampoo. Be aware that your hamster may be reluctant to bathe.
- Topical treatment with griseofulvin, an antifungal medication, is another treatment option. Your vet will shave the affected skin areas first, and then you will need to apply the ointment at home according to the prescription.
- Isolate the hamster during treatment.
- Treatment for ringworm usually lasts 18 to 21 days.
- Hamster ringworm is contagious to humans, so wear gloves when handling your hamster and wash your hands after doing so.
Step 3. Clean the hamster's cage
A hamster can become infected with ringworm from the material on the cage floor. Clean the cage and its contents with hot, soapy water. Dump all the material off the floor and put a new one in when the cage is completely dry. Just like when handling the hamster, wear gloves when cleaning the cage.
Step 4. Keep the cage well ventilated
If your hamster's cage doesn't get a lot of fresh air, it could become humid inside, which promotes fungal growth and increases the risk of a ringworm infection. If you don't have a wire cage, consider purchasing one. A wire cage should have good ventilation.
If buying a new cage is not practical, purchase a wire cage roof to improve the ventilation of the cage
Method 3 of 3: Treat Skin Wounds in Hamsters
Step 1. Take the hamster to the vet
A hamster can get a skin wound from fighting with its cage mate or scratching itself on sharp ground material. This wound can become infected, causing an abscess (infection pocket) to form. When you take your hamster to the vet, he will take a sample from the wound to identify the type of bacteria in it. The type of bacteria will determine which antibiotic will work best.
Territorial female hamsters can bite each other
Step 2. Let the vet treat the wound
If an abscess forms, the vet will surgically remove it and inject an antibiotic into the affected area. If the abscess ruptures on its own before surgical treatment, the vet will need to drain the fluid and rinse the area with an antiseptic until clean. For you to take care of the hamster at home, your vet will prescribe an antibiotic ointment that you should apply to the affected area.
Step 3. Eliminate the cause of the injury
If your hamster has a bite wound from its cage mate, place the hamsters in separate cages. If the injury was caused by sharp material on the floor, replace the material with something soft, such as toilet paper or paper towels. By eliminating the cause of the wound, you can help prevent future skin injuries.
- Consider wearing disposable gloves if you need to apply an ointment to your hamster's skin.
- Male hamsters have scent glands that they use to let females know that they are ready to breed. These glands can sometimes be mistaken for a skin disease.
- Hamsters are very sensitive to different scents in the air (eg perfume, air fresheners, scented material on the floor of the cage, etc.). If they are allergic to the scent, they will scratch their skin and experience hair loss. Identifying and discontinuing the use of the "culprit" scent usually treats allergies.
- Hamsters can develop skin cancer, but it is rare.
- Sarcoptic mange occurs in hamsters, but it is also rare. It makes them very burning, and can lead to bacterial skin infections. It is treated with ivermectin oral drops.
- Griseofulvin can cause serious side effects in hamsters, such as diarrhea. It can also cause birth defects, so it should not be used in pregnant animals.
- An antibacterial infection can develop in severe cases of ringworm.
- Hair loss in hamsters can be due to diseases that cause hormonal imbalances (eg, adrenal tumor, kidney failure, thyroid problems, etc.). The underlying disease may not be treatable.