Acute Moist Dermatitis (Hot Spots) in Cats

Acute Moist Dermatitis in Cats

Acute moist dermatitis, also known as hot spots, are localized, moist, reddened bacterial infections of the skin. A hot spot starts because something irritates the skin. The body’s response is either to itch or become inflamed. The itching then causes the cat to lick or chew the area, which further damages the skin, and creates a cycle of itching, scratching and chewing.

Hot spots can be caused by anything that irritates the skin and initiates an itch-scratch cycle, but the most common irritants are fleas. Other causes are allergies (flea, inhalant, food), parasitic disease (sarcoptic and demodectic mange), anal gland disease, poor grooming, tick and mosquito bites, burrs, and summer heat. They are most common in long-haired and heavy-coated breeds, and are more prevalent during the summer months.

Typical locations for hot spots are the side of the face or the hip areas. Hot spots are uncommon in cats compared to dogs.

What to Watch For

Typically, your pet will exhibit the following:

Diagnosis of Acute Moist Dermatitis in Cats

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize acute moist dermatitis and exclude other diseases, as well as to determine the underlying cause of the hot spot. However, your veterinarian can usually make a preliminary diagnosis based on a history of rapid onset and the clinical appearance of the lesions.

Treatment of Acute Moist Dermatitis in Cats

Treatment for acute moist dermatitis may include one or more of the following:

Home Care and Prevention

Clean the affected areas with antibacterial and astringent products daily until healing is complete. Make sure that your cat has sufficient water while receiving corticosteroids. House soiling incidents may occur during corticosteroid therapy if the cat is not allowed outdoors frequently enough.

If your cat has flea allergy and is prone to develop hot spots, you should be aggressive with your flea control program. In addition to treating the environment, you also should apply an appropriate insecticide or repellent to your cat to prevent flea bites.