Glendale Animal Hospital - The Family Veterinarian

SKIN DISEASE

BACTERIAL SKIN INFECTIONS (PYODERMA)

Bacteria are normal and generally harmless residents on the skin surface. While many species of bacteria can be present at any given time, staphylococci are most common and of greatest concern in most skin infections. Often, skin infection occurs secondary to some predisposing cause such as trauma (scratching) which abrades skin surfaces and creates an environment suitable for unfavorable growth. While bacterial skin infections share certain common similarities, there are several different presentations commonly seen and described herein.

 

SUPERFICIAL PYODERMA (HOT SPOTS, ACUTE MOIST DERMATITIS)

Hot spots or acute moist dermatitis is an uncommon problem in cats. This condition occurs only when a cat is itching or biting excessively while trying to rid itself of some offending stimuli. It is often secondary to other diseases that produce itching and thusly abrade the skin. These include allergic dermatitis (atopy), flea allergic dermatitis, mite infestations, ear infections and anal sac disease. The lesions appear as a sudden loss of hair, redness and a moist, pus-like exudate on the skin. Some owners may see dry, raw spots before the infection sets in. This condition will appear very quickly although many cat owners have failed to appreciate the early itchiness of the cat. (Itching is often manifested as scratching, biting, chewing or licking the skin.) ((Hot Spot))

Hot spots vary somewhat in size and appearance, but the lesions (signs) most often appear on the hips, flanks, low back, near the tail, and on the neck and ears. Lesions are often sore or painful; crusts and exudates may have built up if a day or two has passed since onset. Diagnosis is based on history of sudden onset, clinical signs, skin scrapings, woods light evaluation, cultures and in some cases, skin biopsy, mostly to determine the initiating cause.

TREATMENT OF SURFACE PYODERMA

Most cats do very well with prompt treatment. Clipping hair from the area and scrubbing the crusts and exudates away with an antiseptic shampoo is the first step; sedation is often required due to discomfort and unwillingness of the patient. Injections of anti-inflammatory medications and/or antibiotics, topical application of Burrows H solution with or without antibiotics added, or other topical medications is common. Oral antibiotics and sometimes prednisolone to control itching or allergic reactions will heal the spots quickly.

 

FOLLICULITIS

Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles, or the root area of the hair. It may occur on any area of the body. It is rare in the cat, as the more common presentation is that of miliary dermatitis. The clinical lesion appears as a pustule, which looks like a pimple, a small bump filled with pus with a hair protruding from it. Often, however, these solitary lesions are more difficult to find as the infection continues on and spreads, papules rupture, and hair loss and crusty areas with scales are seen.

Greatly advanced cases are known as Deep Folliculitis or Furunculosis, but these are often secondary to foreign objects in the skin, flea allergic dermatitis, trauma and chin acne. Here, larger and deeper areas of skin infection with small fissures or ulceration occurring and increased amounts of exudates are seen. These may be similar to or progress to a case of cellulitis. Diagnosis for all cases should include history, physical exam, skin scrapings, cultures, skin biopsy and possibly endocrine testing.

TREATMENT OF FOLLICULITIS

Diagnosis and treatment of any initiating cause is most important to initiate the proper treatment plan. Antibiotic therapy, often for 2-4 weeks, is indicated; medicated shampoos to disinfect the skin and remove crusts and debris are important, and topical antibiotic/burrows/cortisone solutions may all be employed. In more advanced or resistant cases, cultures of the exudates to help in antibiotic selection are advised.

 

 

IMPETIGO (SUPERFICIAL PUSTULAR DERMATITIS)

This is a strep or pasteurella infection of kittens, usually seen when the mother has carried and moved them about too much. Clinical signs appear as small pustules (bumps filled with pus) which do not involve the hair follicles often are noted on the neck, head and above the shoulder blades. These are usually not painful. The pustules may rupture and yellow crusts then appear in the area. Diagnosis is based on physical examination and occasionally a skin biopsy.

TREATMENT OF IMPETIGO

Most cats respond well to topical cleansing with an antibacterial shampoo such as oxydex or a chlorhexadine type. Some cases may require antibiotic therapy, and most cats will improve more quickly as they approach puberty. Some cases will require oral antibiotic therapy.

 

 

SKIN FOLD DERMATITIS

Cats with natural skin folds such as the Persian or the Manx, or obese cats with extra rolls of skin due to their weight have problems with pyoderma between the folds. Rubbing of the skin, build up of secretions or exudates and moisture being trapped in the folds all favor the growth of bacteria and the development of a skin infection. The infections are most often superficial but can be chronic and recurrent in nature.

Clinical signs appear in areas where folds occur, and thusly fold pyoderma, include the face between the nose and eyes of Persian-type cats, the area around the tail in Manx cats and in the area around the vulva in obese female cats. Diagnosis is straightforward and based on physical exam of the infected area. Foul odors from the lesions, especially from the lips, are very common. Secondary pigmentary keratitis in cases of nasal fold dermatitis will often occur.

TREATMENT OF SKIN FOLD DERMATITIS

Cleansing the skin with oxydex type ointment or shampoos and administering antibiotics orally will provide temporary relief, but long term treatment will depend either on weight loss if the cat is obese or surgical removal or alteration of the folds for a permanent cure. In cats where surgery is performed, quick recovery and rare relapse of clinical signs is the rule.

 

ABSCESSES

Abscesses are pockets of bacteria, exudates and inflammatory cells, which most often occur just below the skin in what is called the subcutaneous tissues. These are very common in cats, often seen after catfights, and also if foreign objects such as foxtails have gotten under the skin, if lacerations or other types of punctures have occurred or if a wound has closed quickly and infection has been trapped under the skin.

An abscess can occur in any location, but the face, legs and tail are commonly affected. Many contain staph or pasteurella bacteria. Symptoms appear as a soft, fluid filled sac or swelling under the skin. The area may be warm to the touch and the cat may have a fever. Sometimes an opening may appear over the abscess or the abscess may rupture and pus will drain from the hole. Foreign body abscesses are common between the toes and in the ear canals. Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, cytology of exudates and bacterial cultures. ((Abscess))

  

CELLULITIS

Like an abscess, cellulitis is a deep bacterial infection but is less defined than would be an abscess. Clinical signs appear as an infection that will tend to spread along tissue planes rather than pocket into a cavity. Areas of cellulitis are often swollen, painful, warm and many open and ooze pus. Sometimes areas of skin may slough or peel away as they are damaged by the infection. Fever may also be present in these cats. Diagnosis is by physical examination, cytologic exam of exudates and cultures to help determine the best therapy. 

TREATMENT OF ABSCESSES AND CELLULITIS

Both conditions are so similar that treatment is consistent for each. Proper drainage is needed to help remove pus from the tissues. Abscesses will be lanced and flushed under anesthesia or sedation, with exudates being cleaned away using antiseptic solutions. Drains are sometimes placed in larger abscesses. Antibiotic injections and oral antibiotic therapy will be prescribed and should be quickly effective.

In cases of cellulitis it is often difficult to isolate pockets of pus for drainage but any open sores should be cleaned and flushed by the veterinarian. Topical ointments can be used to treat open wounds or drainage sites, and some veterinarians prefer that owners hot-pack the areas involved to improve circulation. Any abscess or open draining tract should be carefully explored for foreign objects.

 

VARIATIONS OF PYODERMA

PODODERMATITIS: infection of feet and toes that can have many causes. If nails become involved it is called Paronychia. Very irritating to the cat. Can occur secondary to foreign objects under the skin, bite wounds or fungal infections. 

GRANULOMA: nodules that are hard, may have a draining tract with pus being thicker or having a sand-like appearance. The best way to understand a granuloma is to think of an abscess with scar tissue. Granuloma formation in cats can occur for several reasons, often after a wound of some type. Many types of bacteria including pathogenic or opportunistic mycobacteria often form these lesions.

 

 

ANAL SAC DISEASE

The anal sacs or "glands" (they are really not a gland) are paired, balloon like structures that reside under the skin, and a thin layer of muscle at about the 4 and 8 O'clock positions as one views the anal sphincter. These sacs secrete a musky fetid material of varying consistency, which probably plays some role in territory marking and identification of the cat from whence it was produced. Problems of the glands are uncommon in cats. Although no exact cause of anal sac disease has been determined, many theories exist.

It is possible to feel the sacs just under the skin, like small, semi-soft marbles in the area described. If the sacs become infected, overfilled, or if the drainage ducts become plugged, (impacted) anal sac disease including abscessation of the gland(s) will occur.

Clinical signs of anal gland disease include scooting of the rear end on the floor, licking or biting of the anal area, redness and swelling of the area, and possibly a moist infection of the skin or an open draining sore if the gland has abscessed and ruptured. The condition may be quite painful, appear suddenly and cause some cats to be reluctant to pass their normal bowel movement, or do so with some pain involved. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs, cytology of exudates and bacterial cultures.  ((Anal Sac Abscess))

TREATMENT OF ANAL SAC DISEASE

Mild impactions are treated by gently squeezing the glands to drain retained material. As recurrence is common, repeated drainage may be needed. Oral antibiotics are used if infection is present. In chronic cases or cases where abscessation has occurred, sedation and flushing of the glands with an antiseptic solution followed by filling the sacs with a medicated ointment is commonly performed.

Larger abscesses which have not ruptured on their own need to be lanced, flushed, and possibly have a drain installed. Oral antibiotics based on culture will be needed, often for several weeks. In some cases the glands are cauterized or completely removed by surgery when chronic and/or severe problems exist.

 

 

FUNGAL DERMATITIS (DERMATOPHYTOSIS, RINGWORM)

Fungi, like bacteria, are common and ever present in our environment. A few, such as Microsporum and Trichophyton species can commonly cause the skin infection called "ringworm". It should be made clear that no worm is involved; that ringworm is a lay term that describes the appearance of lesions on human skin caused by these types of fungi.

Most animals, if exposed to these fungi, do not develop skin disease. Age, the character of the skin and natural resistance all seem to determine which cats will have the condition. Some cats may harbor and transmit the infection to other individuals but contrary to common belief, cats are not a reservoir of infection for humans or other animals in general. Kittens are more likely to become infected than are adults.

There is no one typical clinical appearance for "ringworm", but most often circular areas of hair loss and mild crusting are noted. Lesions do not seem to itch much. Hairs inside the area may appear to have been "mowed" off short. On occasion, the areas involved may be red and mildly raw, raised, and somewhat itchy. Ears, face and legs are the areas most likely to show lesions. ((Dermatophyte Infection))

Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, Wood's light exam, skin scraping, fungal cultures and skin biopsy. FeLV and FIV testing should also be considered. Many other conditions mimic dermatophytosis in appearance so careful diagnostic examination is important. When fungal infection of the toenails occurs it is called Onychomycosis.

TREATMENT OF FUNGAL DERMATITIS

Most fungal infections, with the exception of Onychomycosis, respond well if treated properly. Anti-fungal shampoos or certain dips work well topically. For smaller lesions, antifungal creams or lotions are readily available but those used for athlete's foot often do not work well for these types of infections. Oral griseofulvin, itraconazole or ketoconazole work best and will quickly bring the fungus under control. Most cats need to be treated for several weeks.

 

 

YEAST DERMATITIS (MALASSEZIA DERMATITIS)

Yeasts are common residents of the skin and ear canals but rarely cause disease on their own. Sometimes seen in cases of otitis externa, secondary to flea allergic dermatitis, and associated with feline chin acne, yeast infections produce signs of a very itchy, foul smelling, rough, red or dark and irregular thickening of the skin, often under the arms, in the groin and along the flanks and back. Cats with this condition smell quite sour and owners report that the cat starts to smell quickly after bathing.

Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, skin scrapings, cytology of the skin or skin biopsy. Often veterinarians will become involved in treating other skin problems and overlook the fact that yeasts have invaded and are producing a separate condition. The foul odor and changes in the skin color and texture should be a clue to aid diagnosis.

TREATMENT OF YEAST DERMATITIS

Use of ketoconazole and its relatives works best to kill yeast and will often quickly reduce the itching involved. Topical antifungal lotions or creams can be used as can medicated antifungal shampoos or general antiseptic shampoos. Cats who have had yeast infections should be kept dry and a vigorous attempt made to determine what led to the infection in the first place.

 

 

MILIARY DERMATITIS

Miliary dermatitis is not truly as disease, but rather a set of clinical lesions commonly observed in cat skin diseases. These lesions include inflammation and itching of the skin, which may be accompanied by small red-brown crusts, small red bumps called papules and areas of redness and/or ulceration. Areas affected most commonly include the lower back, flanks, abdomen, groin and neck. ((Miliary Dermatitis))

There are many diseases that can cause this miliary dermatitis pattern. These include:

Allergic dermatitis, food allergy, flea allergic dermatitis, miscellaneous hypersensitivities, drug reactions, pemphigus foliaceus, ear mites, cheyletiellosis, staph infections, dermatophytosis and certain dietary deficiencies. Treatment of these specific problems will generally resolve the pattern of skin disease.

 

 

EOSINOPHILIC GRANULOMA COMPLEX

Almost to date, the eosinophilic granuloma complex has been thought of as a unique disease syndrome of cats. Recent evidence, however, has shown these lesions to be manifestations on the skin of allergic and/or inflammatory conditions. Therefore, it needs to be understood that this syndrome represents patterns of lesions on the skin that exemplify other conditions. Most commonly, the lesions are seen secondary to allergic dermatitis, food allergy, flea allergy and insect hypersensitivity. Three common variations to this syndrome are seen:

Feline Indolent Ulcer (Rodent Ulcer, Eosinophilic Ulcer)

Indolent ulcers appear as a red, erosive lesion, usually of the upper lip on one or both sides of the nose. Severe cases have been seen to literally "eat away" a portion of the nose. Erosions may also occur on other parts of the oral cavity and on areas other than the mouth. Most areas are well defined, red-brown in color and without hair. They generally seem to cause the cat little obvious discomfort. A few cases have turned cancerous, causing squamous cell carcinoma. These lesions can occur along with eosinophilic plaques and/or granulomas. ((Rodent Ulcer))

Eosinophilic Plaque

Eosinophilic plaques are quite commonly seen on the skin of affected cats. Lesions may be single or occur in multiple, sometimes occurring in large clusters. Usually these appear on the abdomen or on the inside region of the thighs although other areas can be involved. These plaques appear as red, raised, moist, round to oval patches which may be ulcerated and oozing. These are usually quite itchy with most cats licking the areas almost constantly. These lesions can occur along with indolent ulcer and/or eosinophilic granulomas. ((Eosinophilic Plaque))

Eosinophilic Granuloma (Linear Granuloma)

Eosinophilic granulomas occur most commonly on the backs of the thighs, on the face, tongue and elsewhere in the oral cavity. The lesions appear as pink to yellow raised plaques which usually do not itch very much and often appear as a line when on the hindlegs, hence the name "linear granuloma". Another benign form of the disease causes cats to have a "fat" or swollen chin, without any other associated symptoms. This form of the disease also seems a bit more responsive to treatment than the other forms. These lesions can occur alone with eosinophilic ulcers or plaques. ((Linear Granuloma))

TREATMENT OF EOSINOPHILIC GRANULOMA COMPLEX

All of these lesions respond well to cortisone therapy including the use of prednisolone, methylprednisone, depo-medrol, dexamethasone and triamcinolone in injectable and oral forms. In some cases certain antibiotics and/or fatty acid supplements have worked well and reduced the need for steroids. As most lesions are ultimately secondary to allergic-type reactions, a search and treatment of a specific cause offers the very best long-term control of these lesions. Some lesions will never recur once treated; others recur often and can be more difficult to treat, especially eosinophilic plaques.

 

 

SYMMETRIC ALOPECIA (FELINE ENDOCRINE ALOPECIA)

In past days, cats that licked out their coat on the abdomen, rump, hindlegs and sometimes low back area were thought to have some type of endocrine disorder. Current research has failed to prove this hypothesis and seems to support the belief that such cats lick out their coat because they itch! While some cats may be or become obsessive groomers, until all causes of itching can be ruled out and treated these cats should be considered itchy.

Cats of almost any age can be affected with this syndrome. Many felines are "secret groomers", with most cat owners saying that they never see the cat licking out the fur. Hair loss usually begins around the anus and genitals, progressing to the groin, tail, thighs and rest of the abdomen. The baldness will be somewhat symmetrical with both sides of the body areas affected. A few cats will even lick hair off most other parts of the body including the chest and legs. It may be possible to prove the cat is licking out the fur by placing an elizabethan collar on the pet. If the hair slowly but surely regrows then we most often know the cat was licking it out.

Cats with this condition often have allergic dermatitis, food allergy, flea allergic dermatitis, miscellaneous hypersensitivities, drug reactions, pemphigus foliaceus, ear mites, cheyletiellosis, staph infections, dermatophytosis and certain dietary deficiencies. Diagnosis is based on physical examination, history, skin biopsy, blood counts, serum chemical analysis and skin scraping. If all other causes of skin disease are ruled out, we will find a few cats are either a compulsive groomer, removing their own hair or they pull the hair for psychological reasons

TREATMENT OF SYMMETRIC ALOPECIA

Most cats will grow their hair when the cause of the itching is addressed, often with the use of steroids, fatty acid supplements and special diets. For cats that are otherwise unresponsive, tranquilizers, thyroid hormones, male or female hormones and behavioral modification may be useful in some cases. This can be a difficult and frustrating condition to treat in cats that do not have allergic-related disease.

 

 

PSYCHOGENIC ALOPECIA

Psychogenic alopecia is a form of symmetrical hair loss, caused by excessive grooming, for which no medical cause can be found. It is thought that anxiety from moving, new family members, other pets in the home, territorial issues, loss of another pet and so forth results in stress that manifests as the excessive grooming. Many cats are quite addicted to cleaning and pulling of their hair. Clinical signs include compulsive grooming, with loss of hair inside the forelegs, inside the thighs, on the abdomen and groin area. On occasion other areas may be cleaned. New hair growing back into bald areas may grow back darker than before. 

Diagnosis is based on exclusion of other disease and skin conditions by physical examination, microscopic examination of hairs, blood and urine testing, thyroid tests and skin biopsy. Allergy testing may be applicable in more difficult cases, and some veterinarians will even be forced to try different medications to establish the final diagnosis.

TREATMENT OF PSYCHOGENIC ALOPECIA

After a diagnosis is made, trial therapy may take several forms. Cats in multi-cat households may benefit and be cured in a new setting. If that is otherwise not an option, the use of phenobarbital, diazepam, naloxone, certain antihistamines and hormones all have proven effective for some cases. This may require putting the cat on more that one medication to find the one that works be. Any other "treatment" to reduce stress upon the affected cat will also be beneficial.

 

 

HOOKWORM DERMATITIS

Although relatively rare in cats, in areas where there are large numbers of hookworms with cats kept under less sanitary conditions, lesions can occur. At first, red bumps will often appear on the feet or underside of the body as worms penetrate the skin. Later, loss of hair, redness, and thickening of the skin will be present. Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, fecal exam and skin biopsy. Treatment is to clean the environment and as for removal of internal parasites. Generally speaking, this is primarily a disease of dogs.

 

EXTERNAL PARASITES

IMMUNE MEDIATED DISEASE(INCLUDES ALLERGIES)

ENDOCRINE DISEASE

CHIN ACNE

Feline chin acne is a disorder of skin that causes follicles of the chin and sometimes the lips to become plugged. (blackheads) Some cats may have one and only one occurrence of this disease in their lifetime; others may continually battle the problem. Some feel that poor grooming contributes to the problem but in truth, no cause has yet been determined. ((Chin Acne))

Clinical signs include blackheads (comedones) on the chin and possibly the lips. These may be ignored or never noticed by the cat owner. Some cases will never get any worse, others will progress to the stage where severe infection including folliculitis, furunculosis and cellulitis are all present. The areas affected will become thick, swollen, red and be itchy to the cat. Diagnosis is based on history and clinical signs.

TREATMENT OF CHIN ACNE

The type of treatment will depend upon the severity of the condition. Soaking or moistening the area and scrubbing away the comedones with special shampoos or ointments will help most cats. Topical application of Bactoderm or clindamycin can be useful in most cases. Cats with more extensive secondary infection will require antibiotic therapy for a few weeks. Cats that have recurrent lesions need regular cleansing to keep the area from becoming plugged and infected again.

 

 

TAIL GLAND HYPERPLASIA (STUD TAIL)

Along the surface of a cat's tail there is a line of tissue rich in oil and sweat glands. In a few cats, secretions from this glandular area can accumulate on the skin and within the associated haircoat. This is usually noted as a greasy mess of scales and crusts. The condition occurs in both male and female cats so the term "stud tail" is not truly descriptive. Diagnosis is based on the clinical findings.

TREATMENT OF TAIL GLAND HYPERPLASIA

Treatment for these cats involves clipping the hair from the tail, cleansing the area regularly with ethyl lactate or oxydex-type shampoos, and applying medicated ointments if any inflammation or infection is present. Most cats can then be controlled by regular attention and cleansing of the area.

 

 

FELINE PREAURICULAR ALOPECIA (PERIAURAL ALOPECIA)

Many short hair cats, the area of skin between the eye and the ear may contain few hairs and appear somewhat bald. This is normal unless there is inflammation or crusting associated with it. ((Periaural Alopecia))

 

 

HYPERESTROGENISM IN FEMALE CATS

Only one case of this disease in cats has been reported. Middle age female cats that have cystic ovarian disease can develop changes in the skin known as hyperestrogenism. Signs include loss of hair from the genital area, thighs, flanks, abdomen and later over larger parts of the body is the primary symptom. The nipples and the genitals will become enlarged, with most females not having their heat cycle in a normal fashion. Later, seborrhea can develop at which point itching will occur but overall the disease is not very itchy. Diagnosis is based on history, clinical signs and response to therapy.

TREATMENT OF HYPERESTROGENISM

In female cats, treatment involves spaying of the animal. Within 3-6 months after surgery, a cat will regrow their coats and otherwise appear normal. Symptomatic treatment of seborrhea or pyoderma may also be warranted.

 

 

SEBORRHEA

Seborrhea is a chronic disease characterized by increased amounts of scales and sometimes oils on the coat. The problem may affect small areas of skin but usually is more generalized over the entire body. Usually there is little inflammation or itching, but in some cases this too may develop. Three common classifications of the clinical signs are recognized: Seborrhea sicca, dry flaky skin and coat; Seborrhea oleosa, a greasy, foul smelling scaling of the coat; and Seborrheic Dermatitis, where excess oils, scales and inflammation of the skin are all present. Seborrhea is quite rare in cats, and when seen almost always is seborrhea sicca. ((Seborrhea))

Any cat with seborrhea should be checked for dietary deficiencies, internal parasites, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, cheyletiellosis, contact hypersensitivities, excess powdering and/or shampooing, and low environmental humidity. Any cat with greasy-oily skin and flaking should be checked for liver disease, pancreatic disease, SLE, intestinal diseases and drug reactions.

Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, ancillary testing to rule out other significant illness, skin scrapings, fecal parasite exams, cultures and skin biopsy. As there can be so many other primary disease conditions that lead to seborrhea, good long-term treatment will depend heavily on a proper initial diagnosis.

TREATMENT OF SEBORRHEA

Besides treatment for primary conditions such as diabetes or parasites, medicated shampoos can be employed, at first frequently, then less often as the condition becomes more controlled. Cats, however, are not known to respond well to being bathed so in many cases, the treatment becomes a mute point. Curing the cause will most always cure the skin.

 

 

NASAL SOLAR DERMATITIS

This is a reaction that occurs in areas of white fur on the nose, but also on the lips, eyelids and ears of cats exposed to sunlight. Signs include redness, loss of hair, crusting and exudates that form in the area affected by the sun. If let go without treatment, some of these lesions can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a serious form of cancer, as early as three years of age. Diagnosis is based on physical examination and skin biopsy; the lesions can be confused with those caused by pemphigus or SLE.

TREATMENT OF NASAL SOLAR DERMATITIS

Avoidance of sun exposure is most important. Topical sunblock or waterproof sunscreens are effective to reduce sun exposure. Oral beta-carotene can also promote healing. Topical retinoid therapy has also proven useful for some cats. Using a permanent black felt marker may act as a longer lasting sunscreen but tattooing of the lesion is the best long term treatment available.

 

 

CONTACT DERMATITIS

Contact dermatitis should not be confused with contact hypersensitivity as no allergic type reaction is involved here. Irritants including chemicals, drugs, soaps and insecticides can cause this condition. Reactions to flea collars are seen in the obvious area around the collar; this is known as Flea Collar Dermatitis. This condition may appear very similar to contact hypersensitivity, and the distinction is probably of lesser importance as in either case as the offending substance needs to be identified and removed to solve the problem.

Clinical signs most often occur in the groin, under arms, chest, abdomen, between the toes and around the anus and tail. Other areas are affected when larger quantities of the substance are contacting the area as with a flea collar. Small bumps (papules), redness, itching, loss of hair, crusting and scaling are all commonly noted. If the cat scratches or bites excessively, moist dermatitis and secondary ulceration will occur. Diagnosis is based on history of exposure, physical examination, skin biopsy and patch testing.

TREATMENT OF CONTACT DERMATITIS

Primary treatment of this condition is simple; find and remove the offending substance. Cleansing the skin with medicated shampoos, and the use of injectable, oral and topical prednisolone or triamcinolone to relieve the inflammation will be effective. Moisturizing medications applied topically may also be used to soothe the skin.

 

 

CYSTS

Cysts are non-neoplastic (not cancerous) growths that are sac-like; having a lining made from some type of skin tissue. Most arise from hair follicles although glandular cysts are also common. Most cysts are singular although some cats may seem to develop multiple cysts at various locations on the skin. Some cysts may occur at pressure points or secondary to trauma or foreign objects entering the skin. Any cyst may be complicated if it ruptures or becomes infected.

TREATMENT OF CYSTS

Most cysts can be fully and completely removed with surgery. Lancing or popping of cysts as was common in days past or draining of material from the cyst should generally not be undertaken.

 

 

MISCELLANEOUS SKIN GROWTHS

Various other unusual growths can occur on the skin, most without danger to the cat, but being a nuisance at best. These include Nevi, developmental defects characterized by unusual skin growth and Keratoses, growths involving increased production of thick hard skin similar to that on the pads and feet. Hard, horn-like projections are commonly noted with this condition.

 

 

LACERATIONS and WOUNDS

While it might be a stretch to consider lacerations and wounds a skin disease, these injuries are among the most common of all skin problems. As one might imagine, many obstacles can cut and damage the skin. The length, depth and severity of damage with any type of skin wound can vary greatly. Clinical signs will include the obvious deformity of the skin, but can include bleeding, loss of sensation, loss of function, pain and swelling of the area. Diagnosis is based on history and physical examination although X-rays may be needed to further access the severity of any injury. 

TREATMENT OF LACERATIONS and WOUNDS

As the type of wound can vary greatly, there is no one general or exact way to treat any given injury. General guideline one would follow in cases of trauma apply, with wound management generally performed as follows:

  1. Control any bleeding. Make sure the patient is stable.
  2. Clean the wound well with plain water and then irrigate with saline or a saline-antiseptic solution.
  3. If the wound is only a few hours old and relatively clean it may be sutured closed directly.
  4. If the wound is more than a few hours old but not more than a few days old, and if minimal infection is present, cleaning the tissues, removing dead or partially healed tissues then suturing the cleaned layers can be performed.
  5. Wounds that are several days old or older may be repairable but only after extensive removal of partially healed tissues. Sometimes these wounds may be left to heal without suturing, keeping them covered and using medications to control infection until the wound has healed.
  6. Badly contaminated wounds may need to be left open or can be closed if a drain is put in place to allow exudates to escape. This will also allow the veterinarian to infuse medications directly into the area.