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Acute Moist Dermatitis (Hot Spots)

By: Dr. Rosanna Marsalla

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Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnosis is based on history and clinical signs. It is important to rule out demodectic or sarcoptic mange as a possible underlying cause of acute moist dermatitis. Thus, microscopic examination of several deep skin scrapings should be performed.

  • Microscopic examination of smears from the exudate is useful to identify a bacterial component. If bacterial infection (pyoderma) is present, degenerate neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) with bacteria (usually Staphylococci) inside of them often are found.

  • If the animal has a long history of acute moist dermatitis, it is important to identify the underlying disease. A diagnostic evaluation for flea allergy and other allergies (an elimination food trial) should be performed.

    Treatment In-depth

    Identification of the underlying cause of the pruritus (itchiness) is an important part of treatment to prevent recurrence.

  • The involved area should be clipped and gently cleansed with a mild antiseptic. Products containing benzoylperoxide are used to wash the area. Astringent products (Burrow's solution) can be used for the first few days to dry out the area. Antipruritic sprays containing hydrocortisone, lidocaine or pramoxine also are helpful but short-acting.

  • Cortisone-like drugs are often prescribed for a short period of time. Elizabethan collars may be used to prevent self-trauma. These collars are made of large sheets of plastic material that encircle the pet's neck and prevent them from licking or biting their skin.

  • Antibiotic therapy for a minimum of three weeks may be necessary in animals with secondary bacterial folliculitis.

  • Long-term injectable corticosteroids should be avoided in the management of hot spots.


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