Feline acne

We all know, and probably prefer to forget what acne is. “Pizza face”...I believe that is the nickname most commonly given to tease those individuals suffering from acne. As if teenagers' lives aren’t hard enough, this is another unpleasant phenomena associated with the hard process of maturation.
Beside tolerating your teenage child, you may find yourself also dealing with your cat’s zits as well. As it turns out, cats may also suffer from acne.
Feline acne is quite a common disease in cats. Its appearance differs somewhat from what you know as the common zits, hence many people are not even aware that what their cat has is in fact acne.
The sebaceous glands are microscopic glands in the skin that secrete an oily/waxy material, called sebum, to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair in both humans and animals. Acne is an inflammation and secondary infection of  these sebaceous glands. The condition starts by accumulation of sebum in the gland causing it to clog.  The clogged gland is called Comedone, and it appear as black raised spots. These comedones later become irritated and secondary infected by the bacteria and fungus growing in it, and change into pustules - raised, pus filled small wounds.
The most typical location for feline acne to appear is under the chin and on the lips. This condition can happen in any cat, at any age, but is most commonly seen in cats between 2-4 years of age. Sometimes the condition is related to hyperactive sebaceous glands and is inevitable, but mostly stress and poor hygiene contributes to its development.
The symptoms of feline acne can be mild and may go unnoticed. Initially, with the appearance of the black comedones the chin may just look dirty. Secondary pustules look more like the human acne. The pustules often rupture leading to bleeding, crusts, draining tracts and hair loss.  
In mild cases, the acne may be resolved on its own or by local treatment that includes frequent cleaning of the area, usage of anti-seborrheic shampoo and topical creams. In more advanced cases, systemic medications such as antibiotics and anti-fungal medication may be required. Your veterinarian will assess the severity of the condition, and in more severe cases your cat may be treated with a short course of steroids to control the inflammation.

If you suspect acne in your cat, take it to see your vet. Never treat your cat with the human medications against acne. It is also important as your vet will diagnose the acne and differentiate it from other conditions that may have a similar appearance. Ruling out other conditions such as Ringworms, or mite infestation known as Demodex is essential for successful management of the condition. Your veterinarian may recommend performing a biopsy to differentiate and rule out an autoimmune disease called Eosinophilic granuloma complex or allergies.  
Here are a few tips on how to try to prevent acne. Avoid using plastic food and water bowls. You are better off using stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowls. The plastic bowls are more likely to restore bacteria and make the cat prone to infections such as acne. For the same purpose, clean your cat’s food and water bowls daily with water and soap. Using very shallow bowls can also be helpful. If your cat tends to suffer from acne, clean its chin and lips frequently after eating.
Often feline acne cannot be completely cured, but can definitely be managed and spare your kitty unneeded grief. Get your kitty checked by your veterinarian and obtain more information on feline acne.  
Dr. Oz can be contacted through his website: www.KelownaVet.ca      

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About the Author

Dr. Moshe Oz owns Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, a small animal veterinary practice in West Kelowna.

Dr. Oz has deep love and affection for animals. It was his childhood dream to become a veterinarian, a dream that he has fulfilled when he graduated with honours from KUVM,on 2006. Dr. Oz's special interest is internal medicine and surgery.

In his free time Dr. Oz enjoys training and racing triathlons, including the legendary Penticton's Ironman.

Dr. Oz can be contacted through his website: www.KelownaVet.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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