Skip to main content

See also:

Focus on feline acne

There is a cure
There is a cure
Karla Kirby

Feline acne is a common skin disorder distinguished by the company of blackheads on the cat's chin and lips. It can affect cats of any age, sex or breed.

Sebaceous glands exude oils--sebum--which lubricates the skin, preventing dryness and causes irritation. The sebaceous glands are mostly found on eyelids, chin, lips, dorsal, surface of the base of the tail, scrotum and prepuce. They are associated to the hair follicles

These glands also play a position in territorial marking and any sharp-eyed cat owner will have seen their cat rubbing his/her face and chin along objects. Over time this rubbing will leave greasy patches.

In acne, the follicles become blocked with black sebaceous material, ensuing in blackheads. These blackheads may become swollen irritated, and infected, leading to pustules.

Stress could be the cause. Stress activates the release of various hormones which lead to the sebaceous glands manufacturing more sebum.

The use of plastic food bowls is generally discouraged, particularly in cats with feline acne. This is because they are absorbent and trap bacteria, which is then shifted to the cat's chin. It has also been said that a possible allergic reaction to the plastic food bowl is a cause.

The chin is a quite a difficult area for a cat to reach during his/he grooming sessions. Over-active sebaceous glands could also be a cause. It also may be related to hormones.

The chin and possibly lips have black spots00comedones--on it, which look very much like dirt. Secondary infection may lead to swollen, red, pustules, advancing to bleeding because of irritation. Advanced cases may proceed to itching, inflammation and a raw, sore appearance.

Your veterinarian will execute a physical examination of your feline and tentative diagnosis is frequently made based on the appearance of comedones on the chin. Your veterinarian may wish to perform skin scrapings as well as a fungal and bacterial culture to rule out other conditions which carry similar symptoms such as bacterial pyoderma, food hypersensitivity, contact dermatitis, Malassezia, and eosinophilic granuloma.

Treatment of feline acne rests on the severity of the condition. Removing excess sebum is the goal. If the condition is mild, with very few comedones, topical treatment may be all that is necessary: Gentle cleansing with hydrogen peroxide, an antibiotic soap, iodine (Betadine) or Epsom salts.

In more severe cases, cleansing the skin with an ointment or gel with benzoyl peroxide (such as OxyDex) or chlorhexidine may be used as well as a topical glucocorticoids to lessen inflammation. It is good to if apply a warm, damp cloth to the chin for 30 seconds before applying treatments.

If the acne is severe, the fur around the chin may be clipped by your veterinarian to facilitate deep cleaning of the affected area. If secondary infection is present, oral antibiotics will be used. If there is severe inflammation, Oral glucocorticoids such as prednisone will be used.

This may be a lifelong problem with treatment being continually used. Always check with your veterinarian if you suspect feline acne and don’t even think about treating your cat at home with an anti-acne treatment designed for humans.

You may prevent feline acne by switching from plastic to glass, metal or ceramic food bowls. Carefully washing food and water bowls daily, and gently cleaning the cat's chin after eating, if she/he is prone to acne.