Feline acne is actually a relatively common skin problem in cats. Normally it is self limiting and requires little attention other than to keep the area clean. However in some cases it can become quite severe.
A cat has two types of glands in the dermal layer of the skin. There are sweat glands which keep the cat’s body temperature in check and there are the sebaceous glands.
The sebaceous gland secrete a greasy substance that is named sebum. There are large numbers of sebaceous glands beneath the skin of the chin, the lips, the top surface at the base of the tail, the prepuce and the scrotum of felines.
Sebum secretions from these glands are primarily designed to protect hair from the wet and also to help keep skin supple. It is this sebum that is the source of feline acne.
Cats also have a tendency to mark their territories. Cats mark their areas by rubbing their chin, face and the base of their tail against the chosen objects – which often includes their favorite people!
This behavior is usually a lot more evidently around feeding time. The evidence of this marking of the territory is darkish, greasy spots on the objects the cat has marked.
It is worth noting here that cats that have high levels of sebum secretion and are more susceptible to feline acne, are often those cats who are more inclined to this marking behavior that others.
In mild cases, cat acne will not display any major symptoms. Usually it will just be a discolored area around the chin and lips of the cat. The sebum that is discharged causes blackheads just as in humans. You may see blackish specks, both scattered through the cat’s hair and also still attached to the skin, which can usually be easily removed by gentle cleansing.
In severe cases, feline acne can spread over a much larger area, covering the chin, lips, cheeks and even the insides of the lips. It can cause a crust and scabs. This is usually because of opportunistic, secondary infections.
The skin may develop flaking, lesions and bleeding. Obviously if it reaches this stage it can be quite painful for the cat, so gentle care is needed when treating feline acne.
For mild cases, the only care needed is a simple cleaning away of the excess sebum on a regular basis. Cleaning the sebum will help to prevent the formation of comedones (otherwise known as black heads) that clog up the pores of the skin and reduces the chance of any secondary infection developing.
In severe cases, feline acne can cause clinical symptoms in a cat, such as a swollen chin and enlargement of the draining lymph nodes of the head and chin. In severe cases, simply treating the secondary infections topically often does not suffice.
The choice of which antibiotic should be used depends upon the lab reports. Usually an oral antibiotic treatment for four to six weeks will normally cure feline acne. But in cases that have major secondary infection, the cat might need treatment for much longer.
Clindamycin is most commonly prescribed treatment for feline acne. A vet may even suggest the administration of steroids for cases that have extreme inflammation of the skin.
There are a few things that are commonly used for feline acne treatment remedies. Some of these work quite well, especially in keeping the area clean. One of my own favorite feline acne treatment remedies is Witch Hazel Lotion. Simply soak a cotton ball or cloth with the Witch Hazel, and using a gentle mopping action, swab the area of the feline acne. It can be left for a few minutes to soften the discharge before repeating again.
Witch Hazel is an excellent and very gentle cleanser and therefore it is also fantastic for whitening those areas that get discolored anyway. It is great for messy eaters and even for spot cleaning a cat’s coat at shows.
Something else you might like to try is a special Skin And Coat Tonic, which is a food supplement of natural herbs and biochemical tissue salts. I have more information and some reviews on this product here: Skin And Coat Tonic Reviews.
Preventing feline acne from developing requires simple hygiene and grooming. Here are a few quick tips.
Some mild cat and dog skin problems are self limiting and vanish on their own over time. Prevention however is a better policy than cure. Even mild conditions like feline hair loss can be signs of some serious underlying medical condition.