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Feline Acne: Why It Happens and How To Treat It

While all of us are familiar with human acne, many cat owners don’t know that cats can get acne too! While most cases are mild, it’s important to identify if your pet is experiencing acne to prevent infection and ensure their acne does not become more serious. Keep reading to find out common causes, how to identify feline acne, and popular treatments.

What Is It?

Causes:

Feline acne has a wide range of causes, including environmental triggers such as pollen or allergies to fleas. Scientists have identified the following as several potential causes:

  • Stress

  • Poor hygiene

  • Developing secondary to fungal, viral, and bacterial infections

  • Reaction to medication

  • Drinking or eating from plastic containers

  • Demodicosis or mange, causing itchiness and hair loss

  • Hair follicles not properly functioning

  • Rubbing chin on non-sanitized household items

  • Contracting infection from other cats in the same household

Are some cats more prone?

Cats of any sex, breed, and age can experience acne, however it is more common in long-haired cats or cats with folds of skin such as Himalayans and Persians. Acne can happen to a cat once in their life or occur throughout their lifetime.

What it looks like:

Acne most commonly occurs on the chin and mouth but is not limited to that area. It will often appear as small bumps that look like blackheads or whiteheads. With more serious conditions, cats can experience hair loss, redness, bleeding, or scabs. If your cat scratches or licks the affected area, a bacterial infection could develop, which would require a consultation with a veterinarian as soon as possible.


How Do I Prevent and Treat It?

Prevention:

Although there isn’t a one-shoe-fits-all solution to feline acne, here are some steps that may help prevent your furry friend from developing acne:

  • Hygiene: clean your pet’s face after they’re done eating or drinking to prevent any bacteria from getting trapped in their hair or skin.

  • Switch eating and drinking containers: many cats are sensitive or allergic to plastic and can harbor bacteria if they chip. Switching from a plastic food or water dish to a stainless steel, porcelain, or ceramic one may help.

  • Clean frequently rubbed surfaces: cats will rub their chin on objects to display affection or mark their territory. If you notice your cat(s) likes to rub their face on a few particular items, consider cleaning these surfaces regularly.


Treatment:

Remember not to squeeze, pick at, or try to remove your cat’s pimples. Instead, get in contact with a veterinarian to discuss which at-home method will work best for your pet(s). If your cat’s condition is more severe, they may refer you to a veterinary dermatologist.


Warm Compress: For more mild cases of feline acne, apply a soft washcloth or towel rinsed in warm water to the affected area. This can help soothe the skin and reduce swelling.


Medicated Wipes or Shampoos: Topically treating feline acne is commonly more effective than oral medication. Medicated shampoo with active chlorhexidine and medicated wipes may be prescribed. Note: Do not use acne products intended for human use without veterinarian direction.

Antibacterial Medication or Scrubs: Sometimes a vet will prescribe a topical antiseptic to clean the skin. In other cases, veterinarians may provide a diluted rinse. Vets may also offer antibacterial topical medications, which are similar to antibiotic ointments humans use. A common product on the market is Vetericyn, a non-toxic, alcohol, steroid-free formula that helps with the healing of cat acne.

While feline acne is unlikely to seriously affect a cat’s quality of life, reaching out to your vet can keep your cat feeling comfortable and may prevent the condition from occurring in the future. With proper treatment and care, your furry friend will be back to feeling healthy and clean in no time.

-Murray, Melissa. “Chin Acne in Cats .” The Spruce Pets , 28 Apr. 2020, www.thesprucepets.com/feline-chin-acne-possible-causes-signs-treatment-3384889.

-Prater, Danny. “Did You Know That Cats Can Get Acne? Here's How to Treat It!” PeTA, 29 Jan. 2020, www.peta.org/living/animal-companions/preventing-treating-cat-acne/.

-Levine, Kristen. “How To Treat Feline Acne Once and Fur All.” Pet Living with Kristen Levine , 21 Nov. 2019, https://kristenlevine.com/how-to-treat-feline-acne/

-Sullivan, Megan. “5 Tips for Treating Acne in Cats and Dogs .” PETMD, 6 Feb. 2018, https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/5-tips-treating-acne-cats-and-dogs

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