Feline acne is found usually on the chin and lower lip of a cat, where the hair follicles become plugged with a material called sebum. Some cats may only have a single episode of acne while others have a life-long, recurring problem. The frequency and seriousness of each acne flare-up, however, can vary with each cat. A secondary bacterial infection is usually present with feline acne as well.
Symptoms of the condition can include blackheads, whiteheads, mild red pimples, watery crusts that can develop on the chin and lips, and swelling of the chin. In more severe cases of the condition, the cat may develop nodules, bleeding crusts, pustules, hair loss, a severe redness of the skin which can be painful.
Acne in cats can be caused by various things such as poor grooming habits or abnormalities in the cat's skin surface, oil production or immune-barrier function, excessive grooming where the chin is repeatedly rubbed on the fur. It can also be caused by plastic food bowls where bacteria gets trapped within the plastic and in turn can cause an infection of where the cat has come into contact with the offending item, usually the chin.
Diagnosis of the condition will begin with a complete history and a physical exam. The veterinarian will be able to diagnose cat acne by a visual examination of the cat’s chin and will want to rule out any other conditions.
The veterinarian may also want to conduct a skin scraping, fungal culture, a microscopic examination of the cells and a biopsy, which is rarely needed but is sometimes necessary.
To begin, treatment of the condition will begin with a good cleaning of the infected area with an antiseptic cleanser and will involve the use of antibiotics and topical shampoos. This should help to clear the acne. Remove any plastic bowls and replace with ceramic, glass or silver coated bowls.