Monday, July 8, 2013

Feline Acne - How to Help Your Cat's Skin

I'm sure you're all familiar with acne... you know, annoying pimples and zits. Were you aware that cats could get acne problems with their skin as well? It's generally just called "feline acne" and it's a little different than human acne. Cats with feline acne have clogged glands or pores on their chin and around their lips. Cats with oily skin are predisposed to the condition.

This cat's feline acne is mild.
Photo via Sarah Korf

This is something that's pretty common, and if you've ever had a cat maybe you've noticed this with them before. Is it harmful? Painful? How do you get rid of it or prevent it from happening? I have some advice that I'm going to share with you that may help your cat's skin.

What Is Feline Acne and Should You Be Worried?

Feline acne is probably not a life threatening condition. However, it can lead to discomfort and possibly infection if not treated. So maybe you should only be worried a little - no need for a trip to the emergency room at 3 am or anything. 

Cats have sebaceous glands around their chin and lips that release extra oils. These oils are thought to aid them while marking their territory. You know how cats like to rub their faces on things? Well, they are actually claiming their territory and saying "Hey! My oils have been rubbed on this, so that means it's mine!" 

The pores and glands in this area of the cat's skin are more oily and therefore more likely to become clogged. That is why we see cats develop acne in this area. 

How to Help Your Cat's Skin

If you suspect your cat has feline acne, there are a couple of things you can try. In most cases of feline acne, the area will need to be scrubbed with a chlorhexidine solution 2-3 times a day. This is the usual treatment for the condition. Of course, you should always talk with your veterinarian about a treatment plan. 

Sometimes, the feline acne can actually cause a secondary bacterial infection which may require oral antibiotics and maybe even topical antibiotic ointment. For severe cases of feline acne, a veterinarian may actually shave away the fur from the area so that it can be kept clean easier. 

You can also try to include a fish oil supplement to help with your cat's skin. Fish oil is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids which are excellent for the skin. 

I've heard of a few home remedies for clearing up feline acne including cleaning the affected areas with apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, or hydrogen peroxide. I don't have any personal experience using these with feline acne, but they sound like they could be worth a try. 

It's also recommended that your cat does not eat from plastic food dishes. This can cause an allergic reaction in some kitties. Keeping your cat's food dishes clean is also important. 

Stainless steel feeding bowls might help prevent breakouts.
Photo via Mr. T in DC

Fortunately, I don't think I've ever seen an extreme case of feline acne before. It is a very common condition, however. Usually, most cases are mild and don't require intense treatment. 

Has your cat ever had this problem before? Do you have any good tips or advice for dealing with feline acne?

50 comments:

  1. I haven't had a cat with this problem. I have 4 cats. I wonder if my mother has! (she had up to 8 at one point)

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    1. I think a lot of the time, it just goes unnoticed since it's usually just mild.

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  2. OMD, we have never heard of cats getting Acne, hope dogs can't get it..BOL xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

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    1. lol! this comment is so funny!

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    2. Mollie - I think you're safe... I have never heard of dogs getting this before.

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  3. LOL ditto Mollie. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  4. My cat has this condition. My Vet said red plastic food bowls are the worst to use causing the most allergic reactions. I switched to glass bowls, upped the cats' protein intake , eliminated grains and use human acne pads to clean my cat's chin. Huge improvement. Not a cure but a big change.

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    1. Thanks Mary for the input! That's interesting that red plastic ones are the worst, I've never heard that before. Sounds like all of those things would probably be helpful, and I guess you're kitty is proof :)

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    2. I would NEVER suggest this for a cat! Your cat could easily ingest any leftover chemicals from the pads while grooming or eating and become ill or poisoned.
      Please Do NOT try this with your cat if you care about their health.
      Cat acne is not worth potentially poisoning your cat over.

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    3. I use stridex on my cat's chins. It was recommended by the vet. No problems resulted and their acne got better

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    4. It's recommended by many vets actually. Nothing to worry about.

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  5. Thank you for this post. I have one that had it for a long time. Was mild until the vet gave me meds to put on it and it got much worse. Like he a reaction to the meds so had to stop. I just would try to keep things clean and also his chin area. Cause back when he had it they really didn't know much about it so I didn't really know what else to do.
    Sue B

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    1. Thanks for reading! I think keeping things clean is a great way to go about treating/preventing the problem. Thanks for sharing your experience with it!

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  6. I had no clue - but it is good to know what can happen. Thanks for this information! I always storage this pet-health posts - just in case...

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    1. Thanks Easy - glad to inform! I hope you never need to use any of the health posts!

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  7. Great post!

    lol @ 'no need for a trip to the emergency room at 3 am or anything'!

    My Lupetto suffers from feline acne from time to time, luckly it doesn't get too bad! =)

    hugs

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    1. I hope it never gets too bad either. I remember having at least one cat with this before when I was a kid.

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  8. thanx mew HD for this post....we had hurd plastic dishes wuz bad for kittehs two; we haz all ways used ceramic ore steel.... N knock over de fav o rite vase in de houz...we haz never had acne....

    :)

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    1. Well all you kitties are lucky! I hope you never have any acne problems!

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  9. I have heard of kitties getting acne and that was really good info!

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  10. Geesh, I am glad I am not a cat! Acne...eek! Great post Miss Ann.
    *Cairn cuddles*
    Oz

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  11. I have noticed this on some of our cats in the past, but not recently. I wonder if that is because now we only use stainless steel or ceramic bowls. Good information to know if we do ever see it again!

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    1. I hope you guys never do have to see it again!

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  12. Fortunately we haven't experienced this with all the cats we've had over the years, but I know it's fairly common. Thanks for the post--definitely something to be aware of.

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  13. I have never heard of that. Thanks for explaining it.

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  14. Great post, Ann. We've had some kitties with feline acne at the shelter; switching them to non-plastic bowls did the trick! :)

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    1. Glad they got their skin issues cleared up so easily!

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  15. Thanks for sharing that info, Ann.

    I remember reading somewhere that cats can get acne too, though I wasn't aware that it was quite common.

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  16. Mom's old cat Herb had acne very bad on his chin. He would get huge deep bumps even on his lips. Once we got rid of the plastic water bowl it cleared it up. We also used hydrogen peroxide on him. Love Dolly

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    1. Aw poor guy. Glad you guys were able to fix the problem easily.

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  17. My mom's cat had it and the vet prescribed antibiotics and an ointment, but it didn't work. It was getting worse, but then I treated the poor cat with a homeopathic remedy and a solution of plants and it worked. She was getting better within a few weeks.

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    1. Oh how cool! Glad that worked out well for the kitty!

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  18. Dogs can get acne... though I think cat acne is worse from what I've seen between the two!

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    1. Yea you are right. I have seen some dog acne now that I think of it. Maybe even with my own dog.

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  19. My cat Harry developed acne at 9yrs. I changed to metal bowls and have been using hydrogen peroxide twice daily. A little difficult since he is a wedgie and has such long hair!

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  20. Our ragdoll boy has had acne since we got him (he was 2 years old at the time, now he's 5) - I'm not sure what's causing it since we've had metal and ceramic bowls since the beginning. I've also tried cleaning his chin, but the blackheads keep coming back. fml

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    1. Sorry to hear that :( My cat seems to have started getting this now too in the past month. I am going to be more diligent about cleaning her food bowls to see if that helps.

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  21. Three of my four cats have now contracted this "acne" condition. I noticed one cats' chin and instantly thought "FLEAS!!! We don't have fleas!" I also went to look at my other cats chins and noticed all but the baby had a mild case of it as well. It looks just like flea eggs embedded in the fur and skin. It is contagious among cats. I have been using a home remedy of washing their chins with soap (ivory white) and water. No luck in changes. I will now try to use the human acne pads, but I am cautious bec those things are foul smelling and sting pores. Not a comfortable experience I want my cats to have; plus I do not want the cats to lick too much of these toxins into their mouth.YUCK! An even more awful experience for them. Is there anyone who has tried a home remedy that ACTUALLY worked? Curious to know.

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    1. You're right - it does kind of look like flea dirt on the chin! (Their eggs are white.) It's not contagious between cats, but the reason you are probably seeing it in more than one of your cats could be because they are all eating out of the same type of food dish. Try changing to stainless steel or glass bowls as stated in the article, and wash them daily. This can help tremendously. You can also use some of the home remedies mentioned above - vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, to clean their chins. I believe there are also a few recommendations in the comments of this post. Good luck!

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    2. Actually it is contagious amongst cats! My Dad's Himalayan cat picked it up when she stayed in a cattery.
      Sadly my Dad died. I inherited his cat, who then passed the chin acne onto my Ragdoll.
      If you research further you will learn that it's more than just acne & that shared food bowls cause it to spread.


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  22. After moving in October, everything was okay with my cats. (I have four)
    Within the last three months I noticed my white male had a really 'dirty' chin. Found out it was acne after research. A few weeks after I noticed my white cat had it, I check my black male and my munchkin female and they had started to get little black dots on their chins, but our 'kitten' hadn't.
    Since February I've noticed that my white cats chin has been growing red bumps and are now blowing out or he scratches them until they do. He now is experiencing hair loss and has four open wounds from his pimples bursting!
    I checked my black male and munchkin female and have noticed they have one lump. Black males burst by barely touching and I was looking at my munchkins chin when just clear liquid came from a spot on her chin.

    I had called the vet in February about my white cats black bumps and forming red bumps. Said there was nothing to worry about and it was normal.
    Well his fur is going missing now and his chin is full of open wounds from him scratching them or them bursting.

    I'm planning on taking to a different vet but is there anything that could be done to help him in the meantime?

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    1. I think getting a second opinion is a great idea. In the mean time, I'd just try to keep those areas clean and also try to keep their food dishes as clean as possible. Get rid of plastic dishes.

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  23. I have a black cat and all u said above happens to him every month just about I try my best to scratch what I can off him(black bumps) then I take him to the vet she gives him 2 shots I'm sorry but I can'tspell them one is an antibiotic which she has to order that one because theres no other cat that she sees but mine that gets the black bumps the other shot is a steroid 😊 I spelled them right with my spell ckeck on my phone anyway after he gets themthey stop comeing off with he's hair and some places turned like a brown crusty stuff and I'll take it my finger and rub the brown stuff it comes off and I wait tell the next time he breaks out and do the same thing over that's how I live with my cat he's name is Nubs. Yes very very loveing cat and loves me very very much I don't no what I would do without him I'm 53 disabled and almost forget I have another black white cat big & fat and is 100% helthye he's name is Lucky but that's all

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    1. Sorry to hear that! Perhaps you can try doing some stuff to prevent them (if you aren't already). Sounds like you are taking care of him though. Maybe cleaning his dishes after every meal and removing any plastic. You could probably even wipe his chin after meals. And perhaps you could do a face wash every now and then. I'm not sure what you'd use for that, but there are some good suggestions here.

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  24. Our black and white "middle child" has had acne since he was a kitten, but it has recently gotten worse. Part is probably an increase in rubbing his chin on things as he and his "little sister" have a very love/hate relationship. One minute they are fighting over who gets the last scent rub on a favorite place and the next they are sleeping like a Pollak version of a yingyang (she's a Tortie but still 90% black, we have to buy glow in the dark collars just so we don't trip on her... As much...) luckily for all the things they share, whether they want to our not, his acne is not one of them. We believe that he has overactive glands and due to health issues as a kittien has a very sensitive stomach and so sadly does way more than your normal hairball only vomiting (sorry I couldn't think of a better way to phrase it, we just tease him that he is the world's only bulimic cat tho his weight is perfectly fine and he does not have a disease that isn't a joke at all for those who do or know loved ones with it) but that is specific to him yet does contribute to his getting more acne. I'm sorry for all the rambling I'm just one of those people that character limits were not invented for, unless it's too force us to shush. What I should have said was that recently we found that by using a small mixture of an antibacterial soap that is animal friendly (Dawn I believe is the most known one) and water in a small cup, something like the tiny Dixie cups etc, and using a regular human toothbrush isle tongue scraper with the soft bristles, makes it so much easier to get a good deep clean and he Loves his "chin brush" and is always wanting to have it used on his chin and face, even more so when it isn't soapy, but he puts up with it and the following plain water rinse as long as he gets his brush on. Yes he is an odd duck, which since he is a cat is pretty good trick. He isn't a fan of the peroxide soaked gauze passed that we hold onto for about 20-30secs at least, sometimes twice depending on what his acne is like that day, and finally wipe down with a clean washcloth to get the last of the dirt and excess oil that the way and peroxide loosened and to dry his chin. We keep his chin clipped short, not that it is all that long natural (he's a dmh) but the less hair the more the soap and peroxide can do their thing. I don't know if a tounge scraper will be your kitties magic acne and but it doesn't cost much to find out... Just be careful not to confuse your babies chin and with your tounge scraper some sleepy morning or you might experience how awful a hairball could possibly be!

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  25. Try Benzoyl Peroxide shampoo. It worked wonders on my three cats that got it.

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  26. I've found out that it isn't contagious, it seems to be brought on by stress or plastic food dishes.
    But Benzoyl Peroxide Shampoo is great! It helped my cats and it helped to destress them. It gets worse before it gets better.

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  27. I just noticed it on my cat... Poor boy, he had urinary infection about a month ago, took him to vet several times,she just said he was stressed... Now I see that acne is also caused by stress... My husband and I are working on getting our basement done,so the vet thought he might be stressed bc of that.. I wish I could wave a magic wand and do the work instantly just to get him to feel better... He is such a friendly and cuddly cat.

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