What is Feline Chin Acne?

What is chin acne?

Feline chin acne is a poorly understood disorder of follicular keratinization, which refers to the overproduction of keratin, a protein found in the outer layer of skin. When this excess keratin is trapped in the hair follicle, comedones or “blackheads” form. These comedones may become infected with bacteria and form pustules or “pimples”. Feline acne is similar to the acne that humans get.

What causes chin acne?

While the exact mechanism is not understood, the abnormal follicular keratinization is thought to be related to a primary seborrheic disease such as seborrhea oleosa, to poor grooming or cleaning, or to excessive sebum production (the natural oily “moisturizer” produced by the skin). The end result is that the hair follicle becomes “plugged” and an infection with its accompanying clinical signs often results.

What are the signs of chin acne?

The most common sign associated with this type of acne is the “dirty” appearance of the chin. Some people refer to this condition as “dirty chin syndrome” for that reason. The lesions, pustules and comedones, may appear on the chin, lower lip and/or the upper lip. The chin often appears dark and flaky. Careful observation will reveal the “blackheads” and infected follicles. Chronic cases may have hard, crusty lesions that are sore when touched. Both male and female cats can develop chin acne.

How is feline chin acne treated?

Treatment often involves improved hygiene. Cleaning with benzoyl peroxide facial preparations is often advised. Antiseborrheic shampoos and clipping of the hair are often recommended. Antibiotics, fatty acid supplements or oral isotretinoin may be used in more severe or chronic cases.  In a significant number of cats, there is an association between using colored plastic food dishes and chin acne.  In these cats, if the food dishes are changed to ceramic, glass, or stainless steel, the condition resolves.  Most cases respond well to improved hygiene. Owners should closely follow their veterinarian’s instructions to ensure success. Some cases will often benefit from medications and more aggressive treatments.

Make sure to speak to your veterinarian if you think your cat suffers from chin acne.