Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 03/29/2017Updated: 11/13/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
Fold Dermatitis in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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 and yeast. 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 around their lips (lip fold dermatitis).

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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
  • Obese dogs are more at risk

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; days to weeks.
  • Chronic cases continue to need treatment for a long time, often over the course of many years.
  • Tail fold dermatitis is most common in dogs with short and curly tails such as the Bulldog
  • Vulvar fold dermatitis can happen to any female dog of all ages and breeds
  • Lip fold dermatitis usually affects dogs with loose, hanging lips such as the Cocker Spaniel
  • Face fold dermatitis is common in dogs with wrinkled, loose skin in the face such as the Shar Pei.

Causes of Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

The cause of fold dermatitis varies depending on the type but it is usually a problem with poor ventilation, moisture build up and humidity. Allergies often play a role. 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 status, 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, biochemical profile, skin swab and scrape.

The veterinarian will examine all of your dog’s irritated areas.

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.

Chronic, recurring cases may warrant a biopsy. Some dogs will benefit from allergy testing; either a blood test or intra dermal skin testing.

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, lip or tail fold dermatitis, surgery may be suggested to remove excess skin.


Hydrocortisone cream, chlorhexidine gluconate wash, and ketoconazole shampoo may be used. Antibacterial ointment, wipes, and shampoos are sometimes prescribed. Antibiotics or antifungals are given by mouth or injection to treat infection.


In severe cases, the veterinarian may suggest surgery to remove the excess skin folds that are causing the ongoing 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 Shar Peis 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.

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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 week 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


pit bull terrier




10 Years


22 found this helpful


22 found this helpful

My pet has the following 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?

April 17, 2018

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

22 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.

April 17, 2018

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel




1 Year


3 found this helpful


3 found this helpful

Hi 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 ?

Oct. 8, 2017

3 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

Oct. 8, 2017

Will the hair grow back?

Oct. 8, 2017

George's Owner

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

Feb. 7, 2018

Adrieanna F.

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