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A Brief Introduction to Acne in Cats

AUTHOR: DR JOHN ABBASS

DVM M.Phil (Pet diseases & welfare)

Acne is a bigger problem than injuries”.

Dr John Abbass

Acne in cats is a cringe-worthy word to hear for humans. As people, we are all too familiar with the topic of acne but perhaps you do not realise cat acne is also fairly common. As a veterinarian, I am often asked about cat blackheads, black spot on cat’s chin and cat acene treatment. It is not uncommon to have a pet owner visit me concerned about a cat pimple on lip. Cat acne is a dirty skin problem that is most frequent in those breeds of cats which have long fur and many skin folds.

Cat owners ask a number of questions related to acne in cats. Here, we will throw light on cat acne and some important tips to deal with this condition in your beloved furry friend.

Acne in Cats

Acne arises when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. This results in the formation of cat blackheads. Seeing a black spot on the cat’s chin is very common and usually observed by the cat parents; this is a clear sign of cat acne.

Causes

There are various causes of skin acne in cats. Some important key reasons have been listed below:

  1. Excessive production of sebum (oily substance) from the sebaceous glands in the skin. This overproduced sebum clogs/ blocks the hair follicle around the glands.
  2. Excessive production of keratin (a protein that is found in skin). It is usually thought that chin acne results due to keratinization of chin hair follicles.
  3. Flea allergy and environmental triggers such as fungal spores and pollens are also considered as causative agents cat acne.
  4. Hormonal imbalances, poor grooming habits are also the main reasons for acne in cats.
  5. There are many infectious agents such as bacteria which cause cat acne.

NOTE: It has been documented that stress is also a predisposing factor that causes acne issues in cats. So, it is highly recommended to keep your furry friend stress free as much as possible.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Cat Blackheads forming/dirty skin
  • Inflammation and cat sores on skin around the chin and nearby areas in cats.
  • Loss of hair (alopecia)
  • Lesions and skin breakout
  • Redness (erythema), bleeding scabs, nodules are also rarely observed.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis mainly depends on physical examination and laboratory testing. This is very important to stay in touch with your vet and report him the problem just after reporting. Remember, there are many other similar medical conditions which can be easily confused with acne.

Treatment and Prevention

A benzoyl peroxide facial preparation or an antiseborrheic shampoo is used to cleanse the affected area and flush out the hair follicles. Your vet can also recommend antibacterial or antifungal shampoos/cleansers.

Topical or systemic antibiotics can be given to stop the bacterial infection.

Immune boosters are very much important in this case. Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation plays an important role, as these fatty acids promote skin health.

Hygiene is quite important to combat cat acne. Cats are naturally very clean which you will notice from how often you see them grooming themselves. It is important to make sure their living area is clean and tidy and their litter tray is regularly emptied and cleaned. Hair clipping is also advised in certain cases where you have a cat whose hair can become matted. Matted hair eventually pulls at the skin and causes pain and skin issues so whilst brushing your cat will help reduce the risk of matting, some breeds may require hair clipping.

Make sure your cat is free from stressful situations and it is better to replace plastic feeding/water bowls with stainless or ceramic ones. This will help reduce the risk of your cats developing chin acne.

Always take any step under veterinary supervision. Don’t use human products in cats without veterinary consultancy as these products may cause complications in your cat.

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