Bichon Frise Skin Problems

By Jane Meggitt

Allergies are the most common of younger bichon frise skin problems, but middle-aged and older bichons may develop warts and tumors. For some mild skin problems, such as dryness, you can use a home remedy such as coconut oil or a similar product for massage, but most skin issues require veterinary attention.

Allergic Reactions

Bichons are prone to allergies, and in canines allergic reactions generally manifest themselves in the skin. Common canine allergens -- such as fleas, certain foods, molds and other environmental triggers -- can cause your bichon to scratch, chew himself and lose hair. This trauma often results in skin infections. While a monthly topical or oral flea preventive can control flea allergies, food and other allergens require extensive testing and treatment by your vet.

Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous cysts are common in the bichon frise. These cysts contain sebum, an oily material created by the sebaceous glands, and develop around sebaceous glands near hair follicles. If your bichon scratches or bites at the cyst, a secondary infection could occur. Do not squeeze a sebaceous cyst. Your vet must surgically remove this growth, and will prescribe antibiotics for a related infection.

Old Dog Warts

All elderly canines are subject to developing old dog warts. These growths are particularly common in the elderly bichon frise. These aren't the same papillomas commonly appearing -- and disappearing -- in younger dogs. Old dog warts appear anywhere on the body, and generally look like raised pink growths. Other colors also occur, including gray or black. While these warts are usually just cosmetic issues, they can ulcerate if located in an area where the dog licks or scratches them. Always have your vet inspect your old bichon's wart, to ensure it isn't actually a tumor. The vet can remove it if the wart bothers your pet.

Bichon Frise Pilomatricomas

Pilomatricomas, also known as calcifying epitheliomas of Malherbe are hair follicle tumors common in aging bichons. These small tumors, formed in the hair root, may be benign or malignant. They appear primarily on the animal's trunk. They look just like another hair follicle tumor, trichoepithelioma, which is almost always benign. However, the contents of the pilomatricoma mineralize, so they seem gritty rather than the typically cheesy contents of the trichoepithelioma. Your vet will surgically remove the tumor and test it for cancer. Fortunately, malignancy is relatively rare. Once one pilomatricomas develops, others usually will follow.

Hair Loss

Bichon frises are especially vulnerable to hair loss at the site of vaccinations, a condition known as injection site alopecia. The hair loss doesn't occur immediately after the inoculation, but as much as 10 months later. Usually, the hair loss becomes apparent between three and six months post-vaccination. In addition to the vaccination site, some dogs start losing hair on other parts of the body, including the legs, face and tail tip. Thickening of the skin and lesions also may occur. Your vet can biopsy the affected area to diagnose the condition. She can prescribe medication that may reverse the alopecia.