Cats have a sebaceous gland in their skin designed to excrete a greasy substance called sebum. Sebum waterproofs the cat's fur and keeps its skin soft. A cat can get acne if the sebaceous gland produces too much sebum. Other acne causes are stress, poor cleaning habits, a suppressed immune system, illnesses or skin conditions. Feline acne generally presents itself on the cat's chin, lips or head, giving the skin a dirty look, and has several remedies.
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Mild cases of feline acne can be remedied by washing the affected area with an antibacterial wash, Epsom salts or hydrogen peroxide. The website VetInfo recommends using the same chlorhexidine antibacterial wash used by surgeons and scrub nurses. Antiseborrheic shampoos that contain a 3 per cent or less concentration of benzoyl peroxide may also be used for mild to moderate cases of feline acne.
Some cases of feline acne are caused by an underlying bacterial infection, yeast infection or ringworm. In these cases oral antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection and resulting acne. The cat generally takes the antibiotics over a four- to six-week period. Corticosteroids are also prescribed if the cat's acne is severe, causing a highly inflamed skin condition.
Severe cases of feline acne may require topical treatment as well. Creams or gels containing benzoyl peroxide control the excess oils being produced by the sebaceous gland. There are also chlorhexidine creams and gels available that contain the same antibiotic ingredient as the surgical scrub wash. Certain steroids come in topical form as well and might be required to reduce severe inflammation.
Feline acne has several underlying causes and something as simple as your cat's food dish could be exacerbating the condition. Doctors Foster and Smith's website PetEducation.com recommends using shallow glass or stainless steel food and water dishes to avoid potential allergic reactions to the dyes or plastic in the plastic varieties.
If you notice your cat isn't cleaning its face very well, give it a hand by cleaning its chin or any other area of the face prone to acne regularly to prevent further acne breakouts. Some cats will develop poor grooming habits due to age or other illness and, just like us, a dirty face is prone to acne.
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