What are those black specks on my cat's chin?

CatChannel veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, gives advice on feline acne.

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Q: There’s a black scab on my cat’s nose. It is really dry and nasty looking. There are also black specks on his chin. It’s getting really bad. What should I do?

A: The black specks on the chin sound like “comedones,” the technical name for blackheads. The most common cause of this is “feline acne” (also referred to as “chin acne”). Feline acne is a skin condition in which some of the hair follicles on the chin become infected (folliculitis).

Cats that are messy eaters — those that always seem to have a little food on their chin or don’t clean their face well after eating and drinking — are more prone to chin acne. Some cases have been linked to a hypersensitivity to plastic food bowls, and the acne often clears up if the cat is switched to a glass, porcelain or stainless steel food dish.

Most cases are mild and require no treatment. More substantial cases might require a topical ointment containing benzoyl peroxide. In severe cases, the infected follicles can become swollen and painful and can bleed once they rupture. In these cases, antibiotics are warranted in addition to topical ointments.

As for the black scab on your cat’s nose, without seeing it, I’m reluctant to speculate on what it might be. You should have the nose (and chin) evaluated by your veterinarian.

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Reader Comments

cecile    Burlington, ON

5/22/2010 3:10:48 AM

Read a different answer from the one I saw the first time I checked into your health section. I see you recommend benzoyl peroxide, and not hydrogen peroxide. Is the Ben. per. less 'burny' than the Hydrogen Per.? I haven't used the latter as I'm afraid of hurting my cat. I'm using Pyoben. Do you recommend this? Do you think this product will help? It seems to be spreading, but my cat under a lot of stress due to health problems.

Jessie    Valparaiso, IN

12/17/2007 2:36:24 PM

My Somali gets acne severly on her chin and I've tried every type of bowl out there. What has worked best for her was Ammens foot powder. I put it on a q tip otherwise she gets angry with me! :)

Kat    Chesterfield, MI

12/11/2007 6:56:42 PM

Great information! Have had same problem with my cats. Vet confirmed acne. Changed from plastic to glass bowls and wha-la!! problem solved!

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