Feline acne is common in cats of all breeds, sexes and ages. It occurs most often on cats' chins or around their lips, and in less severe cases cats' fur my hide the acne entirely. However, in more severe cases it can be very noticeable. Acne occurs in cats when their hair follicles are blocked by the oils secreted to keep their skin moist. Pimples and swelling can occur, and a cat scratching at these can cause a secondary infection and hair loss around the area.
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A good bath can dislodge the oils that are blocking hair follicles. Using an antibacterial soap to clean the chin and lip area is best, as this will not only get rid of what germs are already there, but also prevent new ones from getting in now that the pore follicles are open. Use salts in the water to help calm your cat while you bathe her.
Topically applied vitamin A and retinoids can also help in mild cases. Wipe down your cat's face with a damp cloth and then apply the ointment. Do this two times a day, and be gentle when handling swollen or abraded skin. Stop immediately if it seems your cat's acne is getting worse as over-treatment of any kind can cause more irritation.
Hydrogen Peroxide & Iodine
Hydrogen peroxide or iodine can be applied with a cotton ball without the need to clean your cat's face first. You also won't be transferring bacteria from your fingers onto an area sensitive to infection. However, iodine can sting and hydrogen peroxide bubbles. You should wipe off the excess chemicals after they've been applied, so it might be difficult to get your cat to stand still for this treatment.
Benzoyl Peroxide & Chlorhexidine
For more severe cases, cleansing ointments or gels that contain benzoyl peroxide or chlorhexidine can be used. These are both antibacterial — chlorhexidine is in the substance that surgeons use to wash their hands before surgery — and are applied topically. The gel tends to be cooling, so more cats will put up with these treatments.
Allergies, yeast infections and ringworm can all present symptoms similar to feline acne. It's important to get the condition checked out by a veterinarian to make sure you're not treating for the wrong thing. Your vet will take a skin scraping to rule out these conditions and may perform further tests to determine if a secondary bacterial infection has occurred.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.