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Feline Acne

cat_maincoonDid you know that cats can get acne? They can, and it's not a teenaged cat disease, either.

What Is Acne in Cats?

From small, red or black, raised bumps to large crusty sores, acne in cats can have a wide variety of appearances. It is most commonly seen just on the cat's chin. Some cats just get a one-time case of acne, while others get recurring outbreaks, or even have it constantly. Severity can range from small pimples with beige-brown to black crusty discharge sitting in the fur at the base of the hairs, to severe acne with boils/abscesses forming in the deep tissues, causing the chin to swell up. When it becomes advanced like this, the acne can be quite painful and hair loss over the chin may occur. Sometimes, the scabby, crusty material really builds up and can coat the chin and, less commonly, the lower lip area.

What Causes Acne in Cats?

Nobody is sure why some cats get acne, why some cats keep getting repeat bouts, or why, in some cats, it is so much more severe than in others. Poor immune system function, inhalant allergy, poor grooming, food, food dish, or food mite allergy, or other environmental allergy have all been proposed as potential causes.

Acne will be distinguished from other infections (including Malassezia yeast and ringworm), skin cancer, mites, and eosinophilic granuloma complex by your veterinarian during the professional assessment.

Treatment of Feline Acne

The treatment depends on the severity of the acne. Mild cases are often treated with shampoos or gels and topical antibiotic cream, while more severe cases are treated with oral antibiotics to counteract the infection deep in the tissues. Surgical intervention may be needed in very advanced cases. Vitamin A prescription cream has also been used. Sometimes, periodic application of cream and chin bathing are applied long-term to help keep acne in check.

One should avoid trying to burst the boils in the chin, since this can lead to rupture of the infection inside the skin and result in worsened inflammation. Your veterinarian may elect to gently shave off the chin area during acne treatment to help keep water or food from clinging to the irritated skin.

This is not life-threatening condition of cats, but as with people, advanced acne can cause scarring, and pain and the most severely affected cats may lose their appetite.

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