Dear Doctor- Our experts address feline acne
[From Tufts May 2011 Issue]
Seeks solutions for feline acne
My cat has had a recurring cyst in his chin. Most recently, my veterinarian surgically cut it open to clean it, stitched it up and installed a drain. Eventually, the drain was removed and chin showed no signs of inflammation.
My veterinarian prescribed an antibiotic called Clavamox, but my cat began vomiting and so he was switched to one called Baytril. My cat now has a consistent fever of 102.2 Fahrenheit and my veterinarian is baffled. I hope you can help.
Dear Dave: Feline acne is a common skin condition in cats. Basically, it is an infection of the hair follicles on the chin. Because it is an infection, it usually responds to antibiotics. Clavamox is usually effective, but it is a penicillin and it can sometimes cause vomiting and/or diarrhea in cats. Baytril is also very effective and usually has no adverse effects on the cat. Topical medications, such as benzoyl peroxide, metronidazole gel, clindamycin gel or mupirocin ointment, are useful for treating feline acne.
The chin should be clipped and cleaned before applying topical medications. Hot-packing the chin prior to treatment often enhances the efficacy of topical treatment. A warm washcloth, pressed against the chin for a few minutes, will open the pores and allow better penetration of the topical medication.
In most cases, cats will have blackheads and some hair loss on the chin. In severe cases, abscesses and cysts can form. Abscesses may need to be lanced, and in some cases, a drain may need to be placed. Without seeing your cat, it is hard to know from your description whether this was just an abscess, or if it was a cyst. Abscesses should resolve after lancing and antibiotic treatment. A cyst, on the other hand, needs to be completely removed surgically.
If what you’re describing is truly a cyst, then I suspect the recurrence is due to incomplete removal. A temperature of 102.2 Fahrenheit is not actually a fever. The normal temperature for a cat is between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. You didn’t mention whether you were doing topical treatment as well as antibiotics. I would recommend that you apply warm compresses, use a topical agent like mupirocin, and give an oral antibiotic (the cephalosporins are antibiotics that are particularly effective for skin infections) for three weeks. If this does not resolve the problem, a referral to a veterinary dermatologist may be warranted.
Arnold Plotnick, DVM, DACVIM
Catnip Medical Editor