Like humans, cats can also get acne and there is no known exact cause of feline acne, but there seems to be a few factors that are associated with the skin issue. The most common factors tend to be, stress, poor grooming habits, suppressed immune system, and the presence of other diseases, such as contact, or atopic dermatitis. Another issues tends to be the lack of sufficient amounts of oils being produced, which causes hair follicles to not function the way they should. Determining what the skin issue is, is the first step. Your cat’s doctor will want to do some tests to determine if in fact, it is acne, so he knows how to treat it.
What is acne?
Acne can develop on any cat no matter the age or the sex of the cat. It is the forming of comedones on the chin and lips of the feline, and to look at the chin of the cat, it may look dirty. These comedomes have the ability to develop into small abscesses. These abscesses can break open and form crusts. In some severe cases of this happening, the abscesses may cause draining tracts, there can be swelling on the chin and your cat may begin to lose hair. If the area becomes itchy, your cat will scratch the area and this can cause more problems and trauma to the area which may include a secondary bacterial infection. Acne is something that may only develop just once in a cat’s lifetime, or, for others, it may be an ongoing problem that needs regular monitoring and treatment. Persian cats are more susceptible to this due to the folds they have on their chin.
How does a doctor diagnose acne?
Your veterinarian will need to test the area to make sure there are no other issues or diseases that it could be, such as demodicosis, ringworm, eosinophilic granuloma complex, or yeast infection. This is the process of ruling out anything more serious that may look like or mimic acne. First, the vet will take skin scrapings from under the chin. A skin biopsy may need to be performed to rule these conditions out, as well as a culture and sensitivity, which checks for secondary bacterial infections. This is typically done only if the vet suspects that it could be a problem.
Treating feline acne
Feline acne is something that is primarily just treated and not ever really “cured.” If the acne is just a mild case, it may not even need any form of treatment. For other cases that require treatment, there are options that can include anti-seborrheic shampoos, which are shampoos that contain benzoyl peroxide, or the use of benzoyl peroxide gels. These help to breakdown any excess oils that may be causing the acne. Another treatment regimen may include supplementing your cat’s diet with fatty acids. There are also oral or topical antibiotics so treat secondary bacterial infections. For areas that are very inflamed, your vet may prescribe a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation. If there are underlying conditions involved, ringworm, etc., those will be treated separately.
Other ways that may help to get the acne under control may include the need to change foods as well as water and food dishes. Stainless steel and glass are the best for this. You should also wash and clean the chin regularly, as some cats do have poor grooming habits and may need a little help from their owner.
The more you pay attention to your cat’s skin and fur, and keep an eye on how they do with their grooming, it can help you catch these types of problems and conditions early enough before they do turn into a worse condition that is more miserable for them, takes longer to treat, and more in-depth treatment regimens.