What is a hot spot?
A hot spot is a superficial, moist skin infection that develops when normal bacteria on the skin overgrows. Hot spots are infected areas that are often round, reddened, hairless, oozy, and may be covered in a scab.
Hot spots develop secondary to an insult to the skin. Itching from allergies, moisture trapped under the fur, an insect/flea bite, or matted fur can cause irritation. When dogs scratch or chew on the irritated area, a bacterial overgrowth occurs. Hot spots are most common during hot and humid summer months. Hot spots can occur in any breed of dog or cat, but are most common in dogs with a dense undercoat that traps moisture.
How are hot spots treated?
The first step in resolving a hot spot is clipping and cleaning the area. This allows the wound to “breathe.”
Treatment requires antibiotics (often a combination of oral and topical). Depending on severity and location of the hot spot, an E-collar and anti-inflammatory medications are also frequently needed.
Most hot spots resolve in 10-20 days, depending on severity.
Can hot spots be avoided?
The most common underlying cause of hot spots is allergies, which may be to environmental components (such as pollens), food, or fleas. Keep your pet on year-round flea prevention, and discuss other possible allergy concerns with your veterinarian.
Dogs with dense undercoats and dogs that swim are more prone to hot spots. Carefully monitoring your dog for any signs of itching or chewing can help prevent hot spots from developing.