My Cat Has Sores on Her Face and Chin

CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, discusses chin acne and inflammatory conditions of the skin.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM | Posted: October 9, 2009, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: I have a large female calico that has recurring bouts of sores breaking out on her face and under her chin; the edges of her mouth do the same thing. They will usually will respond to cortisone or prednisone. Sometimes she has been given antibiotics as well. Have you treated such a condition in one of your patients and, if so, is there any hope of her being permanently cured?  We no longer feed her in a plastic bowl since our vet thought that might contribute.

A: It sounds like several things may be going on in your cat. The sores under the chin sound like “chin acne,” which is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles on the chin.  Some veterinary dermatologists have reported that a contact-type allergy to plastic can contribute to the problem, and have recommended avoiding plastic food bowls, using glass or porcelain instead.  Mild cases are often treated using a topical ointment. More severe cases require antibiotics.
 
The sores on the edges of her mouth and lips, however, may be something else. Some cats are affected by a condition called eosinophilic granuloma complex. This is an inflammatory condition of the skin that can manifest in many ways. Some cats get a characteristic sore on their upper lip, the so-called “rodent ulcer”; others get thick, raised sores on their abdomen and inner thigh (called eosinophilic plaques). I’ve seen some cases that manifest as sores on the edges of the lips. The eosinophilic granuloma complex responds dramatically to steroids like cortisone or prednisone, and the fact that your cat responded to these drugs supports my contention that this is what your cat probably has.
 
Some cats, once treated, do not experience a recurrence.  Other cats, however, may have their lesions resolve, only to have them reappear days, weeks, months, or even years later. There’s no predicting. Fortunately, this is not a serious condition. If your cat does need repeated steroid treatments to get the lip inflammation under control, I would treat using pills rather than giving steroid injections. With pills, you can taper the dose down to the lowest dose that controls the disorder.  At low doses, the drug has minimal side effects. Steroid injections have the potential for undesirable side effects and should be given judiciously.

 

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My Cat Has Sores on Her Face and Chin

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Reader Comments

Anita    Austin, TX

3/25/2014 12:51:48 PM

The information was informative, but I would have liked to have seen some pictures.
I have a cat who has recurring lesions on the top of her head, so my conclusion was that this article was not applicable. This is her second bout. Several months ago she was treated with a steroid topical cream. It was very expensive and the vet. said she had never seen this condition, so I do not know whether to return to the vet or not.

momo    anaheim, CA

10/11/2009 12:56:04 PM

interesting

sk    nh, CT

10/10/2009 10:23:49 PM

intresting info

Syl    Salem, OR

10/10/2009 10:07:10 PM

interesting.

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