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What are Fold Dermatitis?

Fold dermatitis is commonly found in dogs with excess, wrinkly skin and is most often found in the face, lips, vulva, and tail folds. However, fold dermatitis can happen anywhere on your dog’s body where there is wrinkled or extra skin. Acute fold dermatitis is a case that only lasts for a short period of time, but if not treated properly it can become a chronic case which will need more intense treatment.

Fold dermatitis is a common chronic skin disorder that occurs in the folds of skin, especially in breeds with many areas of skin folds and loose skin. This condition occurs due to the moisture and heat that builds up in the folds of skin, which is a perfect breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria, yeast, and fungi. It is usually more common in the summer when it is hottest and can become bad enough to cause a bad odor and weeping from the area. Because the mouth is constantly moist from saliva, it is common for your dog to have this condition on their lips.

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Symptoms of Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

There are several types of fold dermatitis that each have their own set of symptoms. Some of the most common complaints are:

General Skin Fold Dermatitis

  • Moist red areas in folds of skin anywhere on your dog’s body
  • Usually affects the face, lips, neck, vulva, and tail folds

Tail Fold Dermatitis

  • Scratching, biting, or rubbing affected areas
  • Rubbing behind on carpet or ground
  • Excessive licking

Vulvar Fold Dermatitis

  • Scooting
  • Licking groin area
  • Foul odor
  • Red irritated skin
  • Frequent urinary tract infections

Lip Fold Dermatitis

  • Swollen, painful, and bad smelling lips
  • Discolored and matted fur on the mouth with chronic lip fold dermatitis
  • Scratching and rubbing face

Face Fold Dermatitis

  • Painful weeping sores in skin folds
  • Damp red areas of irritation
  • Blisters or lesions


  • Acute cases only last for a short time
  • Chronic cases continue to need treatment your dog’s entire lifetime
  • Tail fold dermatitis is most common in dogs with short and curly tails
  • Vulvar fold dermatitis can happen to any female dog of all ages and breeds
  • Lip fold dermatitis usually affects dogs with loose, hanging lips
  • Face fold dermatitis is common in dogs with wrinkled, loose skin in the face

Causes of Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

The cause of fold dermatitis varies depending on the type but it is usually a problem with heat and humidity. Obesity is also considered to be a factor in some cases. Certain breeds are more susceptible, which include:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Bloodhounds
  • English Bulldogs
  • Pekingese
  • Pugs
  • Saint Bernards
  • Shar Peis
  • Shih-Tzus
  • Spaniels

Diagnosis of Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

With any visit to see your veterinary professional, you should be prepared to provide your dog’s complete medical history and immunization, if possible. The veterinarian will need to know if your pet has been on any medication or been ill recently as well. A physical assessment will be done first, to check your dog’s vital signs and overall body condition. In addition, a group of laboratory tests will need to be done which usually includes a complete blood count, blood and urine cultures, chemical analysis, and other blood work.

The veterinarian will examine all of your dog’s irritated areas and will get some tissue samples for microscopic evaluation. Other diseases and illnesses must be ruled out and your dog should be tested for infections such as pyoderma or impetigo. There is usually no need for x-rays or other imaging in this case unless the veterinarian suspects an internal problem.

Treatment of Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

The veterinarian will likely clean the area and apply a cream or ointment to ease the itch, pain, and inflammation. Clipping or shaving the area is also important in keeping the area clean and dry. In severe cases, especially with vulvar or tail fold dermatitis, surgery may be suggested.


Hydrocortisone cream, chlorhexidine gluconate, and ketoconazole shampoo may be used. Antibacterial ointment, wipes, and shampoos are sometimes prescribed. Antibiotics or antifungals are given by mouth or injection to prevent any kind of infections.


In severe cases, the veterinarian may suggest surgery to remove the skin folds that are causing the problem. Vulvar fold dermatitis is sometimes treated with episioplasty, which is a reconstruction of the vulvar area to remove the excess skin. In severe cases of tail fold dermatitis, removal of the tail is suggested to prevent the dermatitis from recurring. In fact, many dogs with excess skin such as Sharpeis and Pugs have to get excess skin folds removed to prevent the recurrence of fold dermatitis. This treatment is usually 100% effective in preventing fold dermatitis.

Recovery of Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

Your dog’s prognosis is good with treatment, no matter which kind of fold dermatitis he has. Unless there is a serious infection caused by the dermatitis, your dog should be completely back to normal in a day or two. If your pet has to have surgery, you will need to keep him on controlled activity for 10-14 days or until the stitches are removed. Cold compresses and pain medication will probably be suggested. Your vet may also want your dog to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from chewing or licking the area.

Fold Dermatitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

My two year old pug has been diagnosed with hypoplastic vulva. I want to try a conservative treatment plan before I need to consider surgery. Do you have advice? Is there a flush that I could use? Will a cranberry supplement help? She has already had two UTIs in the last month. Thank you.

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
1 Year
Mild condition
-1 found helpful
Mild condition

My dog has skin folds under his eyes which can become sore and inflamed, this is settled at the moment but the hair has come off and they get very dry how can I get the hair to grow back and stop them from becoming dry and cracked I use aloe Vera dog wipes to clean them daily but they look awful and often crack ?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
You can try to clean them regularly with canine antibacterial wipes or with cotton wool with some dilute antiseptic (try to not get it in the eyes); after this you can apply a little Vaseline to the area to prevent the area from getting dry. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

is sudocream safe for dogs mine has it around her vulva she is on meds to help but it still flares up i have used neocourt cream and a dermo wash but not helping

Will the hair grow back?

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pit bull terrier
10 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Crusty,moist and slightly inflamed

My dog has recently developed dermatitis around his lip folds. I have been cleaning the area twice a day and applying coconut oil which seems to be keeping it at bay but not curing it. Is there anything OTC or homeopathic that I can use?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Lip fold dermatitis often requires antibiotic therapy, and that may be the route that you need to go. If you are able to keep the folds dry, they may heal on their own, but skin infections can spread quite quickly and can be difficult to treat without veterinary care. I hope that all goes well for Bruiser.

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