Is there such a thing as Cat Acne?

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Turns out teenagers aren’t the only ones at risk for acne! Believe it or not, your furry feline friends can get it too. Cat acne is not dangerous but can require lifelong treatment to keep flare-ups under control. Here’s everything you need to know, straight from a vet.

What is cat acne?

Cat acne, also called chin acne, is just that. Acne. Just like the kind people get. It can appear as small blackheads on the chin called comedones or can progress into pimples that may or may not develop a whitehead or rupture. Some cats are unaffected by acne, meaning it doesn’t bother them at all or cause any pain, while others show obvious signs of itchiness or discomfort. There is no one specific cause, but cat acne can be triggered by several things. Stress (kenneling or a move), dirty food bowls, allergies, or oily skin are all known to cause acne flare-ups in cats.

Does my cat have chin acne?

No particular breed of cat is predisposed to chin acne. It is more visible in hairless cats and those with white or light colored coats, so it may be diagnosed more frequently on these types of felines.

Cat acne should be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Many skin conditions present with similar symptoms, and it’s important that your vet rule out more serious problems before prescribing medication or beginning treatment. Some medications, if used incorrectly, can exacerbate skin conditions, and some skin problems are symptoms of a more serious disease process at work. Veterinarians can perform different tests, looking at both skin cells and blood work, to determine if there is anything more serious to worry about.

How to prevent and treat cat acne

Once your veterinarian has diagnosed your cat’s chin acne, there are a few different things he or she may recommend to control and prevent future breakouts. Changing from plastic food bowls to ceramic or stainless steel is the simplest. Plastic bowls have a porous surface and harbor bacteria and dirt. Every time your cat eats or drinks, she recontaminates her skin. Stainless and ceramic bowls have solid surfaces, so they are much easier to clean and are more sanitary.

Your veterinarian will also recommend daily cleaning of the affected area with mild soap and warm water or an antimicrobial solution like betadine or chlorhexadine. Care must be taken using chlorhexadine near the eyes as it can cause severe ocular damage.
For more serious cases, antibiotics (oral, injectible, or topical) or corticosteroids might be used as an adjunct to other treatments.

If you suspect your pet has cat chin acne, make an appointment for a physical exam with your veterinarian before beginning treatment.

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