Feline Chin Acne

Cats can get acne too??  That’s right; we humans aren’t the only ones!  Some cats will only get acne one time in their life, while others may have a life-long struggle with it.  Feline acne doesn’t seem to have any preference for age, gender or breed either.  (Boy, it is a lot like human acne isn’t it?!)  Understanding what it is and how to treat it will make things easier on both you and your feline friend.

Feline acne is found almost exclusively on the chin when hair follicles around the oil-producing sebaceous glands become clogged.  It will start out as blackheads, making the chin look dirty, but may turn into swollen, red lumps that often rupture and drain.  When this occurs, it will turn into a mess of crusty scabs, which can be very alarming for a cat-owner that has never seen this condition before.  These scabs will often cause itchiness and irritation for the cat, which in turn may aide in the development of bacterial infections.  Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to preventing secondary bacterial infections.

Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose feline acne with a physical examination.  They may, however, want to perform a skin scraping or bacterial culture to rule out other issues such as mites, mange, or other skin disorders. Your vet may prescribe an antiseptic wash or shampoo and suggest that you perform washes 1-2 times daily while symptoms remain.  Antibiotics, either oral or topical, may be necessary to eliminate any infection.  Corticosteroids are sometimes prescribed for large amounts of swelling and inflammation. 

There has been no proven cause of feline acne, although there are suspicions that poor grooming may be the primary culprit.  The chin is where some of a cat’s oil-producing sebaceous glands are located, but is not an area that is easily reached to groom.  The extra oil-build up clogs the pores, making it the perfect retreat for the pesky acne.  Helping your cat groom its chin by gently washing the area with warm water 1-2 times a week will help to prevent these outbreaks.  Shampoos or gels containing benzoyl peroxide may help keep the area clean and dry up existing acne.  Similar to humans, stress and a decreased immune system are also thought to be potential suspects.  Food dishes may also be a factor.  Plastic or dyed dishes may cause allergic reactions as a cat’s chin will often times rest against the edge of the food dish while they eat.  Try using shallow glass or metal dishes and wash them daily.  If your cat is a bit of a messy eater, wash any food or residue off their chins when they get done eating.  Keeping the area as clean as possible will help tremendously. 

Make sure to consult your veterinarian before using any products on your cat, as some may be harmful to them.  Check your cat’s chin often while giving them their daily pets; they will appreciate the extra loving, acne or not! J