What is Skin Rash?
The skin is the body’s first line of defense against the hazards of the outside world. When a potential invader comes in contact with the skin, such as a bacteria or fungus, the immune system fights back, sending specialized cells to the point of impact. However, when the body reacts to a substance, the body has an inflammatory response and often results in an allergic reaction. Skin rash in cats is a highly pruritic condition that commonly affects the underbelly, feet, nose, ears and mouth of a cat. The underlying cause of skin rash in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, making the substance difficult to pinpoint.
Skin rash in cats is an overreaction of the immune system to an otherwise harmless substance. Skin rash in cats, also known as feline contact dermatitis, is caused by direct or indirect contact with an irritant, or allergenic substance.
Symptoms of Skin Rash in Cats
Skin rash in cats will cause a notable reddening of the skin. The area affected will be irritated, pruritic (itchy), and inflamed. Common areas affected by skin rash include the cat’s anus, abdomen, toes, ears, and chin, as there is not much fur to protect the skin from the irritating substance. Additional symptoms linked to skin rash in cats includes:
- Thickening of the skin
- Biting of the skin
Causes of Skin Rash in Cats
Skin rash in cats is a result of a feline coming into direct or indirect contact with a substance. The immune system mistakenly takes one of these harmless substances as an intruder and releases a chemical response to the skin, resulting in an allergic reaction. Skin rash in cats can be caused by either an irritant or allergenic substance.
Irritant Skin Rash Causes
- Topical medications
Allergenic Skin Rash Causes
- Insect bites
- Bacterial or fungal infection
Diagnosis of Skin Rash in Cats
Diagnosis of a skin rash in cats will require a review of the cat’s medical history, plus a great deal of communication between the pet owner and the veterinarian. Pet owners will be required to tell the veterinarian when the symptoms were first noted, where the cat spends most of her time, and what the pet owner suspects could be the cause of the skin rash. Any new additions to the home such as furniture, deodorizers, or carpeting should be noted as textile materials could be the root of the problem. Changes the pet owner has made to the cat’s food, medications, preventative flea/tick treatments, and even a new collar or food dish should be taken into consideration.
In order to make an accurate diagnosis, the veterinarian may choose to perform a patch test. A patch test is a simple test in which the veterinarian will take a sample of the suspected irritant and tape it directly on the cat’s skin. The substance will remain on the cat’s skin for a duration of time, then removed for assessment. If a rash appears underneath the taped substance, the skin rash substance has been pinpointed. If the tape test proves ineffective, the veterinarian may ask the client to remove the feline from the suspected irritant. He/she may also ask the owner to monitor the cat’s daily activities and daily diet to see if they can detect any possible causes at home.
If the underlying cause of the skin rash remains undetected, the veterinarian may move on to perform an allergy test on the cat’s blood serum, conduct a bacterial culture, or perform a skin biopsy.
Treatment of Skin Rash in Cats
Once the underlying cause of the skin rash has been pinpointed, the feline will need to be removed from that substance immediately. The doctor may bathe the feline with specialty shampoo to remove the particles of the substance from the skin and apply a topical corticosteroid to the cleansed skin to relieve symptoms. The best treatment option for skin rash in cats is to remove the irritating substance from the feline’s environment, but if the substance cannot be removed, therapeutic treatment will likely be prescribed.
Recovery of Skin Rash in Cats
The prognosis for a cat with skin rash varies from feline to feline. Some felines’ immune response balances out over time and the substance no longer causes the feline to develop contact dermatitis. However, other cats simply have an over-responsive immune system and pet owners may find more than one substance causes their pet’s skin to break out in a rash. The best way cat owners can keep their cat’s skin rash under control is by following the management and preventative program established by their veterinarian.
Skin Rash Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My cat has these rashes on her back and she licks them a lot I have spray to put on them for cats for itching ringworm and all that stuff but it doesn't seem to be helping and they look like they might be hot spots they're very hot and moist you to the touch is there anything that off the counter that I can bathe her in or is there some kind of ointment that I can put on them till I can get her to a vet
There are many different types of skin lesions which may occur in cats. If it looks like a hot spot, try cleaning it with 3% chlorhexidine and apply some regular Neosporin. But it would be best to see your Veterinarian as there are many different types of skin lesions which may require different treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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I have a Persian cat Bella who is about 6 yrs old, I also believe that someone is putting something on her, she is always happy go lucky, very attached to me. She does not like this man, loves everyone else, what can i do if i can't afford a vet?
If you suspect that someone is putting something on Bella and she has a skin rash, it would be best to bathe her with mild soap and to keep her indoors so she doesn’t roam and come in harm's way. I know it seems unfair to keep Bella indoors if she is used to the outside but unfortunately for all the animal lovers in the world, there are some people who like to harm animals; when I was a Government Veterinarian taking care of Animal Welfare, I saw the worst of humanity in what some people did to animals (general abuse, puppy mills, dog fighting, cock fighting and the list goes on). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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