Feline acne is a disorder of the hair follicles. It’s often referred to as “chin acne” because the chin and lips are primarily the affected areas. When you think of the word acne you may think of those dreaded pimply adolescent years but for felines the occurrence of chin acne is not isolated to adolescent years but can affect cats of all ages.
This is a very common disorder and can range in severity. Mild cases might show slight hair loss, black crusts, or black-heads. The mild cases usually don’t bother the cats much at all and it may appear like your cat has a dirty chin. Most cats with chin acne fall into this category. On the other side of the spectrum more severe cases may develop redness, pimples, pustules, swelling, and the affected areas may be itchy. In our super severe cases, the chin can have firm infected nodules and thickened skin, at this level of severity cats can become very painful. Diagnosis is fairly simple. If you are concerned your cat is affected by chin acne talk to your veterinarian, rarely do tests need to be done as it tends to be more of a clinical diagnosis.
Causes for chin acne could be from the use of plastic food dishes. The bacteria on the plastic causes irritation when your cat comes into contact with the plastic while eating. Cleaning dishes often and using metal, ceramic, or glass dishes can be helpful as well. Skin scrapings of the infected areas can reveal the presence of a Demodex mite. It is unclear if the mite causes chin acne or if it simply complicates the issue. Your vet can also culture the exudate from pustules found on the skin and that can reveal the presence of yeast and/or bacteria. Again, whether or not it is a cause of acne or a complicating factor it is unclear.
Acne is treatable, the owner typically manages the disorder rather than cures it. Your veterinarian can prescribe treatment that fits your cats severity of the issue.