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Feline Acne

Did you ever wonder what those black bumps on your cat’s chin are? Well, most likely they are feline acne. Feline acne is a common problem seen in household cats. Cats that are affected by feline acne often have no symptoms of discomfort or itchiness, but owners notice the bumps and seek out veterinary care.

Feline acne is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles. Inside the hair follicle is damaged hair and keratin. This festers and gets infected with normal bacteria that reside on the surface of the skin. These bumps should never be squeezed or expressed because the resulting reaction can last for a very long time. Feline acne is often an inflammatory response secondary to some type of allergy.

There are some preventive measures that you can take so hopefully you will not have to deal with feline acne. One thing that is very important is to use stainless steel food and water bowls. Plastic bowls harbor bacteria that can cause an eruption on the chin. Also, year round flea control medication is important as the most common type of allergy is a flea allergy and acne can be secondary to any type of allergy.

If your cat develops feline acne, your veterinarian may recommend trying some treatments before doing a lot of testing such as biopsies or cultures. Often, these cases are mild and they resolve with minimal treatment. Benzoyl peroxide shampoos and ointments are commonly recommended to clean up the area. Some veterinarians recommend using alcohol-free acne pads to clean the chin every 24-72 hours. In some cases, a prescription antibiotic ointment can be applied to the affected area.

If the acne persists or recurs, diagnostic testing and an elimination diet should be pursued. Bacterial cultures and biopsies of the chin should be obtained and submitted to a laboratory. Skin scrapings to look for a mite infection and culture samples to look for ringworm should also be obtained. An elimination diet is a diet that contains novel proteins that the patient has never been exposed to. Two examples are Venison and Potato and Green Peas and Duck. Some cases of acne will resolve with an elimination diet because they originate from a case of food allergy.

Feline acne is a relatively common problem that can range from a very mild case to a very severe case. With a systematic approach, most cases have a rewarding resolution.

Please note that this information does not replace professional veterinary care. It is solely for educational purposes. Your pet's medical condition should be evaluated by a veterinarian before any medical decisions are implemented. If there is a potentially life-threatening emergency involving your pet, take your pet to a veterinarian or veterinary facility immediately.

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