Cat acne is a common skin disorder. Most occurrences of feline acne are far from severe and are easily treatable. If the problem is not taken care of soon after it develops, the acne will worsen which can lead to bacterial infections.
Cat acne usually appears in the form of small black dots or “blackheads” that are known as comedomes. These comedomes are easy to notice on lighter furred cats or those that have shorter hair.
Causes of Cat Acne
A cat’s sebaceous glands secrete a greasy substance called sebum that serves two purposes: helping the cat mark its territory and moisturizing the skin. Scientists have not yet figured out exactly what causes the acne, but it is thought that the sebaceous glands are to blame. A cat’s pours will get clogged and the comedomes will develop if the glands produce more sebum than necessary.
An over-producing sebaceous gland is not the only possible cause of cat acne. It is hard for a cat to clean their chin and if dirt is left to build up, acne will likely develop. You’re cat can also get acne if it is experiencing emotional stress due to a change in their environment or routine. Other causes such as a poor immune system and allergic reactions are also possible but much less likely.
Acne cannot affect your cat until they are at least six months old. Sometimes it only appears once, but some cats suffer from acne their entire lives. Researchers have determined that hormones are not the cause of acne for cats. Every type of cat can get acne and the symptoms vary from mild to severe.
Most often the spread of the acne is minimal and needs little to no treatment. However, if the acne is ignored it will get much worse and can cause infections. These infections can cause bumps that look like blisters and pimple-like sores. The cat will make matters worse by scratching these infections if they are itchy.
Inflammation and hair loss around the affected area occurs in the more severe cases. A cat that has these symptoms will experience a lot of pain which will continue if they are not treated.
Diagnosing the Problem
The simplest way to find out whether or not your cat has acne is to contact your veterinarian. The reason for this is that there are a few other health problems that are often mistaken for acne. Allergies, ringworm and yeast infections all produce similar symptoms to those of cat acne.
Treating the Acne
There are some home-based solutions to clear your cat’s skin:
- Washing the effected area with an anti-bacterial hand soap
- Applying a salve or solution that contains benzyl peroxide
- Applying a cream with the medical ingredient chlorhexidine
The cleansing ingredients in these products will stop the acne from spreading and disinfect the cat’s skin. Make sure you only use products that are made specifically for dealing with cat acne. Never use creams or soaps made for people as this could permanently damage your cat’s skin.
Another cost effective treatment to help reduce infection and clear up acne is to apply a mixture of Epsom salts and water a couple of times a day. Epsom salts are available at your local drug store and can also be purchased online.
If you did not notice the acne in time and the problem is quite severe, then you should contact your vet immediately. They can prescribe medications such as antibiotics and steroids to help deal it.
Avoiding Cat Acne
There are a few simple things you can do to help keep your cat acne free. First make sure that their chin is clean. The best way to keep a cat’s chin clean is to wipe it with a damp cloth.
Using stainless steel food bowls will also reduce the chances that your cat develops chin acne. Plastic bowls tend to collect grime unless they are scrubbed regularly.
Keeping your cat properly groomed will help and will also make it easier for you to notice the acne before it gets out of control.
If you are feeding your cat wet food, try dry food for a change. This will help keep your cat’s mouth and chin cleaner when they eat.
Make sure you are feeding your cat food that provides all of the essential vitamins and nutrients. This will keep their skin and fur healthier which will reduce the chances that they develop acne.