Feline acne may be an unpleasant reality, but the good news is that there are many ways to get rid of cat acne. If you’re a concerned cat mom like me, you may be curious about finding out how you can help your feline stay blemish-free.
When I first discovered that cats can suffer from acne, I was so astonished that I did a ton of research to find out all the details of the matter.
Especially after one of my cats got it from a flea!
So you’ve noticed that your furry feline has some unsightly blemishes. Yikes!
How do you get rid of and treat cat acne? Clean the affected area by applying a warm, damp washcloth. Additional home remedies include topical applications stemming from cucumber pulp, tea bags or witch hazel. Medicated wipes and shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide may help, too. More extreme cases may require veterinarian attention and antibiotics.
While it can be comforting to know that there are some things you can do to help clear up your cat’s acne, there are also some very dangerous practices that you should never try at home.
While the causes of this occurrence aren’t surprising, feline acne is not always recognizable at first glance, so it’s helpful to become familiar with its characteristics so you can spot it right away on your feline.
This is important because severe cases can transform into a more dangerous threat for your cat.
What to Do For Cat Acne
When faced with feline acne, the first reaction of most cat owners is:
How do I get rid of it?!
Similar to skin blemishes in people, feline acne can be unattractive and physically bothersome, and most measures are an attempt to manage the condition rather than cure it indefinitely.
If you notice that your cat has an acne issue, there are a few steps you can take to try and resolve the problem.
Clean The Area Of Your Cats Chin
First, the most basic action you can take as a pet owner is to try and clean the affected area with a gentle approach.
Use a warm, damp washcloth and apply it to the affected area, holding it there for about 30 seconds.
Then, gently wipe the area.
This method accomplishes two things:
- It cleans the area, getting rid of grime and bacteria.
- The warmth of the washcloth encourages pores to open up, which can help expel additional bacteria buildup and relieve pressure from the blackheads.
There are also a number of DIY soothing treatments that you can create at home.
While these applications are not always clinically proven to help, general knowledge that has passed on throughout the pet community suggests that these treatments may help relieve cat acne.
- Cucumber pulp
- The application of green or black tea bags
- Diluted witch hazel
These are some of the most common DIY treatments for cat acne.
The general theory that backs up these do-it-yourself ointments is that these substances are known to dry out the skin, simultaneously expelling bacteria buildup.
When the affected area is dried out, acne is less likely to advance.
Some medicated wipes or shampoos found at pet stores are essentially over-the-counter versions of these treatments.
A more aggressive approach to clearing up cat acne is to use a medication formulated with benzoyl peroxide.
For more severe cases:
Whether contained as a topical ointment or shampoo, benzoyl peroxide medications designed to target feline acne can generally be obtained with a veterinarian prescription.
Benzoyl peroxide fights acne by oxygenizing the skin, which causes the reduction of moisture.
Essentially drying the skin out, benzoyl peroxide also has the effect of expelling dead skin and rejuvenating hair follicles, which may otherwise be clogged and contributing to the development of acne.
For most cats, these methods will already prove helpful.
However, for more severe situations, a visit to the vet may be in order.
Some veterinarians may determine that a course of antibiotics is necessary to clear up feline acne.
What NOT to Do for Cat Acne
While it is quite helpful for cat owners to be aware of home remedies for cat acne, it is equally important to know what NOT to do for cat acne.
Some well-intentioned attempts to clear up feline acne can actually result in putting your cat in serious danger.
Most of us who have survived the turmoil of teenage acne understand how tempting it can be to pop and pick at those little blemishes.
Don’t transfer this temptation to your cat! While some cat owners may think popping their cat’s pimples could be helpful, this is actually a very dangerous action to take.
DO NOT: Popping and picking your cat’s blackheads or pustules is never recommended.
Not only can it prove quite painful for your cat, but it can also actually damage the skin and cause more severe irritation.
If picking or popping results in open abrasions, this exposes your cat to a greater risk of skin infection and irritation.
Here’s another thing you should never do, even though it may seem like a clever idea for resolving feline acne.
DO NOT: Don’t apply acne treatments intended for human use to your feline’s skin. This includes ointments with benzoyl peroxide.
Human acne medications are designed with active ingredients intended for use on human skin only.
The concentration, or amount of medicated ointment in each dosage, that is safe for human use can be extremely dangerous for felines.
In other words, even a small application of human acne treatment can prove poisonous for your cat.
If you’re using a recommended DIY treatment for your cat’s acne, be sure you apply it carefully, without making contact with the cat’s mouth.
Accidental ingestion of certain substances, like a tea bag, medicated ointment or witch hazel, can be very harmful to your cat’s digestive system.
For that reason, do not ever leave the cat unattended while ointments are sitting out, as you don’t want the cat to curiously taste something that could be poisonous for them.
What Are the Signs of Cat Acne?
When it comes to noticing acne on your cat, you may be surprised at its appearance.
Unlike humans, cat acne is almost always isolated to a single area on the skin, and it generally isn’t recognizable at first glance.
Cats affected by acne almost always experience it in the same area of the body:
Below the chin.
This area of skin is typically more exposed to bacteria because of its lack of long, thick fur.
Here’s a great soothing video for an overview:
The pores are also larger in this area, providing a greater opportunity to become clogged and break out as blackheads.
Typically, a breakout of acne under the chin is made up of mostly blackheads.
For this reason, the chin may appear darker, similar to a dirt mark or dark colored cloud.
Might even look like mange in your cat.
Cat owners often mistake feline acne for a small smudge of dirt or grime!
For most cats, this will be the worst of their acne breakout experience.
However, in more severe cases, acne can present as small pink or red sores.
If your cat is irritated by acne, it may begin to rub and scratch at the affected area, which may also lead to it becoming red.
If the skin is red or oozing, it’s often a sign that the area has become infected, requiring veterinarian assistance.
Identifying acne correctly is extremely important.
Unfortunately, the appearance of acne is very similar to that of other conditions, such as mites, fungal infections, and skin parasites.
These health issues can be detrimental to a cat’s wellbeing, so it is vital that acne is identified correctly.
Once I learned that most cat acne presents as a dark smudge, I started double-checking my cat every time I noticed a dirt spot.
If you aren’t 100% sure that the dark spot is dirt or acne, it’s best to consult a veterinarian to rule out other, more severe conditions.
After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
What Causes Cat Acne?
There are many things that contribute to feline acne.
In most cases, the culprit is unidentifiable.
However, if you can pinpoint the specific cause of your cat’s breakouts, then you may be better equipped at preventing the reoccurrence of blemishes.
Excessive oil is one cause of feline acne.
This may be the result of poor grooming habits.
Most felines groom themselves regularly and effectively, but when the chin area is neglected, acne may have a better chance of developing.
On the other hand, over-grooming can also cause breakouts.
During grooming, the chin is often rubbed repetitively.
If this skin is particularly sensitive or rubbed too much, small abrasions could develop.
These little abrasions are like an open invitation for bacteria buildup and clogged pores, meaning blackheads are on their way.
Skin and hair abnormalities are also possible acne culprits.
While this is uncommon, it is possible for cats to have exaggerated skin sensitivity that results in higher levels of acne.
In addition, you may have noticed that your cat tends to develop acne at certain times throughout the year.
You’re not going crazy…
This is actually a real cycle with a scientific cause.
Because acne formation is strongly linked to clogged pores and hair follicle entanglements, it only makes sense that cats are more likely to break out during the spring or fall when they are experiencing natural shedding.
Is Cat Acne Serious?
In most cases, feline acne is not a dangerous condition.
Most cats aren’t bothered by it…
Either physically or emotionally!
In most cases, feline acne is primarily an aesthetic issue that may bother the cat’s people friends.
However, in some severe situations, feline acne can lead to an infection.
If a sore develops and it is exposed to the staphylococcus virus, it is possible for the feline to develop bacterial folliculitis.
While this is a rare development stemming from acne, bacterial folliculitis is a condition that would require veterinarian care.
If your cat has acne, be sure to keep an eye on it and consult a veterinarian if it seems to be taking a turn for the worse.
Otherwise, you can rest easy knowing that feline acne is not a big cause for concern.
Does feline acne go away on its own? Feline acne varies in its severity. Most cases are mild and often clear up on their own with basic home care, such as attentive cleaning. However, more severe cases of feline acne may require veterinarian attention for resolution.
Can I use benzoyl peroxide on my cat? Products made with benzoyl peroxide are commonly used to treat feline acne. Feline benzoyl peroxide treatments can come in the form of topical ointments or shampoo.
Products with benzoyl peroxide intended for human use should never be used on a cat because the concentration of benzoyl peroxide can be extremely dangerous for use on a feline.
Where does feline acne usually show up? In the majority of cases, feline acne is isolated to a small area under the chin. It is possible, however, for feline acne to show up under the lower lip and around the eyelids in extreme cases.
Is cat acne contagious? No. Feline acne cannot be passed from cat to cat or from cat to human.
Does acne bother cats? Most cats are not bothered by the presence of acne. However, felines with more sensitive skin may be irritated by the presence of acne, which can lead to scratching and rubbing the area.
Severe acne that presents as sores can be painful and sensitive.