Posted: February 27, 2012, 6 a.m. EST
Q: My mouse has a very bad, large, bald area that appears red and sore looking. This started off very small but spread quite quickly at one side of her back and in a line around the middle of her stomach. My veterinarian suggested the cause was overgrooming from other mice in the cage, so I isolated her. The problem, however, has not cleared up. I've applied baby’s nappy cream (sudocreme) to no avail. She seems quite distressed by the condition, and I would appreciate some advice.
A: Your veterinarian’s advice was excellent as the first attempt to determine the cause of your mouse’s skin condition. It is not uncommon for mouse cagemates to groom an area to the point that it becomes infected or inflamed. Because you have isolated this mouse and the skin condition is worse, then overgrooming has been ruled out as a cause.
Other common causes of skin disease in mice include external parasites, fungal infections, bacterial infections and even cancer. It is not difficult for your veterinarian to make the diagnosis now that you have ruled out overgrooming.
Your veterinarian might suggest medication for some of these conditions to see if the skin responds. And your veterinarian might also take a few samples from the affected area on your mouse and look at them under the microscope. He or she can do this by scraping off the dead cells on top or putting a needle into the affected area and placing the skin sample on a slide.
Using these methods, during the office visit, your veterinarian might be able to get a diagnosis of parasite infection in your mouse versus the other types of skin infections. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can follow.
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