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Hello and thanks for researching this very important question!
Guinea pigs can have a variety of skin problems that include: 1) Ringworm Fungus--the most common cause of round spots of hair loss that can be itchy 2) Mange--a tiny skin parasite that causes a generalized dermatitis (skin inflammation), also known to cause enough pain to bring on seizures!3) Scurvy--a dietary insufficiency helped by vitamin C supplementation 4) Self-mutilation ("barbering") --habitual chewing of the hair on the flanks and hind end
5) Allergy to bedding (cedar and now even pine are known to cause skin allergy symptoms--you may need to experiment with different recycled paper products in future)
6) Hormonal conditions in females.Here is a link to a site that gives good information about diagnosing and treating skin and hair problems in GPs: http://www.guinealynx.com/hairloss.html
This site has photos of the various conditions that are very large and typical of the illnesses in question. This is also information that you can share with a friendly vet in case you feel you need to have a prescription ordered for you. Not all medications are safe to use in GPs, so do stick to the recommendations listed. Ringworm and mange would be transmissible to humans, so contact your personal doctor if you have questions about your health. Keep the enclosure super clean, and even use a dilute bleach solution (3oz to 1 gallon of water) to rinse the tank with every bedding change until you are sure that these two parasites are controlled.
Here are some sites that advertise vet-finder indexes if you decide you need to look for a vet office that is experienced with GP handling and medicine: http://www.cavyinfo.com/html/vet.htm http://www.aracnet.com/cgi-usr/seagull/vetfinder.cgi http://cavyspirit.com/vets.htm
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