My brofur, Ocean, is prone to chin acne. He has had it off and on most of his life, although his outbreaks have been very mild for the past couple of years. Maybe that’s because it is common in kitties 2-4 years old due to hormones and he is six now.
When mom first discovered it several years ago when he was a youngster, she thought he just had a dirty chin and tried to scrub it clean. Well, that wasn’t the best thing to do. When some of the spots came off, they started to bleed. She was volunteering with the rescue at that time and learned that he most likely had feline chin acne. There are other conditions that can look similar to chin acne, like skin mites, ringworm and yeast infection, so a trip to the V-E-T might be in order to check it out.
What is feline chin acne?
Both cats and dogs get chin acne, but they are not quite the same thing. The description of feline chin acne sounds pretty scientific to me but your humans will probably make sense of it. Sebaceous glands in the chin are connected to hair follicles. When the glands produce an excessive amount of oil, the follicles get clogged with black sebaceous material. Blackheads form which can become swollen, irritated and infected.
What causes chin acne?
The exact cause of feline acne is unknown but several things seem to be associated with it:
- Hyperactive sebaceous glands
- Age of cat – it is common due to hormones in cats between 2–4 years old
- Poor hygiene
- Secondary to fungal infection
- Reactions to medicines
Some say eating out of colored plastic dishes is a cause of chin acne, but at least one veterinarian says that is unlikely.
How is chin acne treated?
In very mild cases, warm compresses can help unclog the follicles. Just don’t scrub like mom did! Left untreated, chin acne can become itchy, infected and very uncomfortable. In severe cases, the blackheads can form abscesses which can break open and form crusts. A bacterial infection can make things worse and require treatment with antibiotics. Some cats can benefit from a fatty acid supplement, especially Omega 3 fatty acids. You can get a fresh source of Omega 3s from sardines, herring and anchovies.
Feline chin acne is a chronic condition which can be controlled but there is no cure for it. Kitties who are prone to this condition should have their chin cleaned regularly. Mom cleans Ocean’s chin with medicated wipes containing chlorhexidine.
Mom used to feed us from stainless steel bowls but always thought they were too big for the amount of food we get. Then she found these white, restaurant grade plastic bowls which she loves because they are the perfect size for the couple of ounces of raw food we get twice a day. She didn’t see that it made any difference for Ocean but, between feline chin acne and whisker fatigue, she decided to look for something new. We now use small, glass dishes like the ones above.
In the meantime, keep your chin clean!
Wikipedia: Feline Acne
VCA Animal Hospitals: Chin Acne in Cats
Doctors Foster and Smith: Feline Acne: Signs, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Chin ‘Blackheads’ in Cats
dvm360: Just Ask the Expert: How do you manage canine chin acne?