Acne in Sphynx cats: what do the black dots on the tail tell you

Quite often, acne appears in cats too. For example, you may notice black dots on the tail of a Sphynx cat. Most often, black dots on the Sphynx cat’s tail indicates improper care of the animal, but they can also appear as a result of the development of various diseases in a male or a female cat. Acne can be different for cats: from cosmetic defects to pyoderma. The development of acne is affected by a number of factors, and the symptoms are only the tip of the iceberg of hidden problems associated with a cat’s health and care of it. Black dots on the Sphynx’s tail can appear for a variety of reasons, and only an experienced veterinarian can determine and find out if the animal needs special treatment. To prevent this from becoming a large problem, you should regularly check your pet for possible acne.

What is acne?

Acne in Sphynx cat

Acne for cats is similar to a human – a consequence of a blockage and then inflammation of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles. The owner usually notices rashes that are located in the chin area and (less often) the lower lip area.

Cats have a lot of sebaceous glands, and they are divided into two types:

  • The first type – the sebaceous glands – secrete discharge into the cavity of the hair follicle. These types of glands are evenly distributed throughout the cat’s body. This secret has a protective function:
    • provides skin elasticity;
    • protects hair from harmful environmental influences;
    • helps to limit the number of certain parasites, such as fleas or skin mites;
    • prevents the growth of pathogenic microorganisms.
  • The function of the second type of sebaceous gland is completely different — it helps the cat to mark their territory because this secret contains aromatic substances that create an individual smell of each individual. These glands are larger and are located in specific places such as:
    • in the chin area;
    • at the base of the tail;
    • on the eyelids;
    • on the skin scrotum and foreskin.

In the appearance of acne, most often, the second type of sebaceous glands that are intended for marking the territory is involved. The chin, in this sense, is the most vulnerable for several reasons:

  • the cat actively uses it, leaving marks;
  • it is usually not covered with hair that would protect it from irritation;
  • it is difficult for a cat to take care of its own chin by licking, while this area is most often in contact with water and food.

The main causes of acne

There can be many reasons why acne developed. The disease occurs in all cat breeds. It is noted that non-sterilized animals suffer somewhat more often, and male cats are more often affected than female cats. In a special risk group are hairless, Persian and Himalayan cats.

Factors leading to the development of this disease

The causes of acne are usually divided into external, related to the influence of environmental factors, and internal, provoked by changes in the body of the cat.

External factors often include:

  • issues with the diet since overeating leads to increased production of sebum;
  • hygienic reasons:
  • using dirty dishes to feed a cat;
  • the use of plastic dishes, which cannot fully remove the microflora;
  • insufficient cleanliness of the cat’s resting place;
  • stresses that also lead to increased secretion of the sebaceous glands;
  • an infected cat with ectoparasites:
  • skin mites;
  • for hairless cats, rare bathing can become a provoking factor.

If the disease is caused by external factors, then the problem is resolved with its removal.

Internal factors:

  • allergic skin lesions of a cat, including an eosinophilic granuloma;
  • contact dermatitis;
  • viral infections (viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, feline leukemia virus and others);
  • infectious cat dermatitis caused by microorganisms and fungi;
  • not emptying the anal glands since their inflammation causes increased secretion of the sebaceous glands;
  • genetic predisposition;
  • pedigree;
  • impaired function of internal organs, for example, the liver or genital glands;
  • any immunodeficiency conditions that facilitate the contamination of the glandular contents with microflora.

In other words, acne often signals that there are problems with the cat’s health.

Does cat acne pose a danger to people?

Cat acne itself does not pose a threat to a person’s health. But on the other hand, acne that has been caused by flea infestation or is connected to reduced immunity, trichophytosis, can be dangerous.

How does acne appear in cats?

The disease goes through several stages in its development, but this does not always happen. Spontaneous stabilization of the process at one of the stages is possible, and cases of self-healing are also possible.

Black dots on the Sphynx cat tail

Stages of the disease

Usually, acne is characterized by several stages:

  • The first stage of the disease – expressed by an increased secretion of the sebaceous glands. An owner of a light coloured cat may notice the presence of greasy yellow spots on the chin of their pet, but in most cases, it is almost invisible.
  • In the second stage, comedones are formed. This happens because of increased keratinization – the production of keratin protein, the main structural component of the skin and fur, joins the increased secretion of sebaceous glands. Protein masses interfere with the normal emptying of the sebaceous gland, and, as a result, the hair follicle, into which the duct of the sebaceous gland flows, is blocked by a mixture of glandular content and protein. Comedones look like a black dot that protrudes slightly above the surface of the skin and is often mistaken for contamination. Comedones are usually located on the chin, and somewhat less often, on the skin of the lower lip. Usually, such changes can be found at the base of the cat’s tail.
  • For the third stage – inflammatory changes in the affected hair follicles are typical, which are caused by bacterial flora. Folliculitis develops: first, the red papule (mound) at the base of the hairline, then the pustule (abscess) — the hair follicle dies, and the hair never grows again. After opening and drying the pustules, crusts are formed. Pain and itching appear. The cat starts to scratch at the affected area, adding to its infection. When the cat has recovered, there are traces of superficial scarring in the affected area.

Possible complications and consequences

If the cat has not received treatment, then the severe course of the disease is characterized by the successive fusion of small foci of purulent inflammation into larger ones and the development of pyoderma (purulent skin infection), which is accompanied by:

  • edema;
  • redness;
  • purulent discharge;
  • pain;
  • fever;
  • an increase in regional lymph nodes.

When inflammation spreads from the follicle to the subcutaneous tissue, a furuncle is formed. At this stage, surgical assistance is often required, consisting of opening, sanitizing and draining the foci of purulent inflammation. The general health condition of the cat is severely affected. In ordinary cases, the consequences may be foci of alopecia (baldness) on the chin.

Acne features in Sphynx and Persian cats

In Sphynx cats, the inclination to acne is inherited. Mostly hairless cats of blue, cream-blue and red colors are affected by this. Those individuals who have retained a delicate residual coat are less likely to get sick. Wide lesion zones are characteristic, occupying the maxillary space, muzzle, neck, back region along the spine with extension to the tail, as well as the abdomen. With the widespread occurrence of acne, hyperpigmentation of the skin can occur.

The most typical forms of acne for Sphynx cats are comedones and nodular-cystic acne.


The inflammatory component is weakly expressed. Comedones can be one or multiple. It is mainly located on the dorsal surface of the tail along the spine in the lumbosacral region and less often – on top of the cat’s head or ears.

Comedones on Sphynx cat

Nodular cystic acne

This form is characterized by the formation of deep infiltrates and cystic cavities containing pus-filled cavities — cysts that can join and open up to the surface of the skin through the formation of fistula passages. The illness takes a long time. Its favourite localization for this type of lesion is along the spine to the tail. Often in these places, a typical “shell” is formed, consisting of overlays of dead and keratinized epithelium and purulent exudate. After healing, persistent cicatricial changes remain.

Veterinarians inform that castration makes acne easier for Sphynx cats.

Persian and Himalayan cats, in addition to having acne, there is a rare disease that they can have – idiopathic facial dermatitis. It appears around the age of six months, up to a year and a half. The cause of this illness is unknown and is manifested in the abundant release of black waxy plaque by the sebaceous glands, while the hair partially falls out. The chin and around the eyes are the most affected places; deposits accumulate in the skin folds on the muzzle, as well as in the external auditory canal, causing bilateral otitis media.

Accumulations of dark sebaceous glands on the cat’s face, partial loss of hair in the affected area are symptoms of idiopathic facial dermatitis

This illness practically almost can’t be cured. Fortunately, if you are taking hygienic care measures and restrain secondary infection, it is only a cosmetic problem and does not affect the quality of thecat’s life.

Diagnosis of Acne

An experienced owner will notice acne if they see the typical signs manifesting on the cat’s chin or lower lip:

  • comedones;
  • red skin bumps (papules);
  • small pustules (pustules);
  • the crusts of dried discharge;
  • soft tissue edema.

You need to visit a veterinarian if you see obvious signs of illness for the following reasons:

  • the doctor will make a differential diagnosis — a number of illnesses have similar manifestations, and the diagnosis needs to be specified;
  • the veterinarian, analysing exogenous factors of acne formation, will help you to take care of your cat, and, in this case, the problem of acne will be solved forever;
  • the veterinarian will examine the cat in search of an endogenous cause for acne;
  • in some cases, with a hereditary or pedigree predisposition, accompanied by a persistent course of the illness, an individual lifelong treatment regimen will be needed — and this is also the task of the veterinarian.

It is important to understand that in most cases, acne is a symptom, and it will persist or recur until the underlying cause is eliminated.

Differential diagnosis is performed with the following illness:

  • demodecosis – a lesion by skin mites;
  • allergic dermatitis, including eosinophilic granuloma;
  • contact dermatitis, which is caused by touching a specific plant;
  • skin lesions with Malassezia yeast fungi;
  • pyoderma that can develop after skin damage;
  • dermatophytosis — a fungal skin lesion, such as ringworm;
  • tumours of the sebaceous glands, hair follicles, and epidermis;
  • if necessary, with other diseases, including rare, such as cat leprosy (Hansen’s disease).
  • A veterinarian may do a check-up to collect information about the cat’s health status:
  • general and biochemical blood tests;
  • general urine analysis;
  • ultrasound of the internal organs.

In cases where it is difficult to establish the diagnosis, a study of the affected skin is performed by relying only on clinical symptoms. Under the microscope, this illness is characterized by:

  • growth of follicles with glandular secretions and keratin;
  • increased keratin;
  • blockage of mouth glands;
  • signs of inflammation of the follicles and surrounding tissues.

How to treat the disease at home

In the early stages of acne, home therapy is really helpful.

Comedones on Sphynx cat

Before consulting a veterinarian, the pet owner needs to monitor the cleanliness of the affected areas, and treat it 2-3 times a day with a swab dipped in an aqueous solution of chlorhexidine.

What you mustn’t do

What you should avoid when you notice the first signs of acne:

  • squeezing out comedones and pustules on the cat’s skin provokes the rapid spread of infection and the development of complications;
  • applying medicinal substances (ointments, liniments) to areas of healthy skin to avoid irritation;
  • neglect of the subsequent application of the ointment preparation with frequent use of antiseptics and shampoos since the dryness of the skin increases the secretion of the sebaceous glands;
  • applying large amounts of ointments can lead to ventilation disruptions of the affected areas and cause skin pore blockage.

Treatment depends on the stage of the disease

Acne therapy depends on the stage of the disease:

  • The first stage of the disease, which is characterized by seborrhea (increased secretion of sebaceous glands), is treated with antiseborrheic shampoos containing salicylic alcohol, benzoyl peroxide, and ethyl lactate. At the beginning of this treatment, shampoos are used daily; then its usage is reduced to one per 7-10 days.
  • At the second stage, together with the shampoo, local antiseptic treatment is added: a water solution of chlorhexidine or Miramistin 2-3 times a day; cleaning solutions of salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide 1-2 times a day. In most cases, this allows you to get rid of comedones in a week.
  • At the third stage, depending on the severity of the associated infectious process, the veterinarian can prescribe local treatment, as well as supplement it with systemic (tablets, injections). For local use – an ointment or gel mupirocin; ointment with clindamycin or erythromycin; gel with benzamycin; local use of retinoid is possible.

For systemic use, broad-spectrum antibacterial drugs are chosen. With severe acne, the skin immunity suffers, also often fungal infections, Malassezia or ringworm appear too, so the treatment regimen often includes fluconazole.

If the acne returns after treatment, then an individual therapy plan is developed by a veterinarian and requires treatment procedures about twice a week.

Traditional medicine to treat acne

In mild cases, it is possible to use natural antiseptics that come from plants. If the cat is allergic, please, do not do this. If there are signs of folliculitis (inflammation of comedones), you should switch to ready-made dosage forms of drugs.

The content of plant-based medicinal components, unlike pharmaceutical products, are not standardized. Nature is brilliant, but in this case, it is more reliable to rely on the accuracy of the pharmacist-technologist.

To wipe areas with comedones use:

  • Fresh pumpkin juice — a freshly cut piece of pumpkin needs to be grated and then applied as a compress to the affected area for 5 minutes. Pumpkin masks normalize sebum production, removes toxins, and restores the skin to its previous state.
  • Lotions from celandine — 4 tablespoons of dry grass are brewed with one litre of water, filtered and used 2-3 times a day.
  • In folk medicine, celandine is used against skin diseases.
  • Yarrow flowers — one teaspoon of dried flowers is brewed in a glass of water and the resulting infusion is rubbed over the area of comedones 2-3 times a day. Yarrow contains tannins and has an anti-inflammatory effect

Rules for carrying out medical procedures

Medical procedures are carried out for a pet in a certain manner:

  1. First, the affected area on the skin is washed with an anti-seborrheic shampoo, then dried.
  2. For the affected area, it is possible to use dry heat – apply moderately heated salt or rice in a bag and place it on the cat’s chin for 5 minutes.
  3. The affected area is treated with an antiseptic solution.
  4. Then salicylic alcohol is applied, followed by an ointment preparation.
  5. Look after the cat for 30 minutes. Do not let it lick the ointment off. Afterwards, clean off the remaining ointment on the chin and let the animal go.

If the cat starts to scratch the affected area, apply a collar.

In cases where the applied product causes irritation to the cat’s skin, stop using it. If the inflammation continues and the affected area expands, replace the medicine with another. If the inflammation continues, it is necessary to make sure that also trichophytosis does not appear with it. In every case, the cat needs to be looked at by a veterinarian if the medicine needs to be changed.

Care of the cat

Following some of the recommendations below will help you deal with the issues more efficiently:

  • Do not neglect the cat’s hygiene, especially the hairless breeds.
  • Cat food should not include products from the human table because excess fat from this type of food activates the sebaceous glands. Do not overfeed your cat.
  • If the cat eats from a plastic bowl, change it to a ceramic, glass or stainless steel bowl.
  • Twice a day, change the water in the drinking bowl. Wipe the cat’s chin area after it has eaten.
  • Follow the recommendations of the veterinarian if the role of endogenous factors in the development of acne is revealed – it is necessary to treat the disease itself if one of the symptoms is a rash.
  • Make sure that there is no inflammation of the pet’s anal glands.


Things to know about the acne course and treatment for pregnant cats and kittens

Pregnant cats are contraindicated with systemic antibacterial agents, as well as the use of transretinoic acid. The use of home-made ointments with antibiotics is also undesirable since it is not known if the substance will enter the bloodstream and can have a negative impact on the fetus. It should be limited to hygienic procedures and local therapy with antiseptics. Fortunately, both systemic antibiotics and retinoids are used infrequently in the treatment of acne.

To prevent a weakened kitten’s immunity associated with the development of intestinal dysbiosis when prescribing a systemic antibiotic, care and local treatment should be used first.

To prevent untreated advanced illnesses that require systemic medications, pregnant cats and kittens should be looked after more carefully.

How to prevent the development of the disease

To prevent acne for your pet, you need:

  • to be attentive to your cat’s health;
  • comply with hygiene measures, especially for acne-prone breeds:
  • to have timely baths;
  • to wipe its face after eating;
  • to feed and water only from clean dishes;
  • to not use plastic bowls;
  • to have proper nutrition and maintenance of the cat;
  • to timely treat against internal diseases – because acne, in most cases, is a manifestation of trouble for the cat’s health.

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