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Seborrhea in Cats

By: Dr. Rosanna Marsalla

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Most cases of seborrhea are secondary to another skin disease. To differentiate between primary and secondary seborrhea, it is important to follow a well-organized plan to rule out other diseases. An accurate diagnosis is important for appropriate therapy and prognosis.

Secondary seborrhea is by far more common than primary seborrhea and the list of differentials is very extensive since almost any disease in veterinary dermatology may have scaling and flaking as a clinical sign. Scaling secondary to another disease may be divided into two big groups: pruritic and non-pruritic.

  • Pruritic causes for secondary seborrhea include: scabies, flea allergy, food allergy, atopy, Cheyletiellosis, pyoderma and Malassezia.

  • Non-pruritic causes for secondary seborrhea include: demodicosis; dermatophytosis; endocrine diseases (hypothyroidism, Cushing's, sex hormone imbalance); pemphigus foliaceous; mycosis fungoides (this disease can be very pruritic); chronic steroid administration; dietary reasons (fatty acid deficiency); and environmental factors (low humidity).

  • Primary seborrhea (generalized) may be classified into: primary idiopathic seborrhea; Vitamin A responsive dermatosis; epidermal dysplasia; sebaceous adenitis; follicular dystrophy; Schnauzer comedo syndrome and ichthyosis. Differentials for localized primary keratinization disorders include: lichenoid psoriasiform dermatosis (pinnae are usually affected); Zinc responsive dermatosis; nasodigital hyperkeratosis; canine ear margin dermatosis; and canine acne.

    Primary diseases of keratinization are usually manifested by excess of scale formation. They are usually genetic diseases and affected patients have a family history. Since these are hereditary conditions, the disease is usually evident at a young age, usually less than two years.

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