Last Modified on May 15, 2014
We think of cats as being remarkably clean pets, but they too can get acne and other skin conditions that cause irritation, redness, swelling, and the resultant itching and irritation. Bacteria and pests can penetrate the skin, causing your cat irritation and even transferring infection into the skin or bloodstream. Likewise, the fur is an imperfect barrier against the same sorts of rash-causing plants that give pet owners their own cases of ugly dermatitis.
Cat acne in particular often occurs on the chin, and in most cases this cat chin acne is the result of its feeding habits. Simply switching your cat's food and water bowls to ceramic or stainless steel may resolve your cat's acne condition, as plastic bowls are more likely to harbor bacteria. Other cat skin conditions may be triggered by mite infestations (as with mange), allergies, fleas or ticks, and environmental toxins.
Cure Cat Skin Conditions with Home Remedies!
As mentioned above, cat acne can sometimes be cured with new food and water bowls (or assiduously cleaning plastic food bowls on a daily basis). In the short term, cat skin conditions (including acne) may be relieved or even cured with several home remedies for the skin and general cat health. In some cases of acne and skin irritations the cause is an allergy, and scented kitty litters as well as commercial cat foods are often at fault - though you should also make sure there are no plants in or around your house that are poisonous to pets. Application of diluted apple cider vinegar or a borax wash may kill off pathogens and soothe your cat's skin irritation.
[YEA] 04/06/2008: Jeanette from Fort Plain, NY: "My cat used to have several completely bald spots all over his body. It would come and go, with no pattern that was apparent to me. The only thing I noticed at first was that he would get much better in the Summer time. One Winter a few years ago I noticed that he did not get worse. In fact, he had no baldness at all. I really thought about it...I hadn't changed food...then it dawned on me: I had changed to all-natural kitty litter and stayed with it consistently for the past few months.
His bald spots had been consistent with the times I had used clumping kitty litter.
Stay away from clumping litter!"
02/16/2011: Katie from Austin, Texas: "Ive just adopted a 6 year old cat from our local shelter - there foster home program. I was told that he was healthy. When I got him home and he'd let me examine him, I found that he has a "condition" under his chin - gray looking and some red patches where's he's been scratching. It could be a staph infection or just "kitty acne. " The shelter will not do the right thing (I notified them less than 24 hours later) and examine the cat and treat it. And I can't give him back - he loves his new home. Any ideas on what to try? I cannot at this point take him to a vet since I just lost my dog last month and the bills were costly."Replies
02/18/2011: Diamond from Merrimav, Ma. replies: "I use boric acid on just about every thing with my cats. One of my newer kittens had every thing wrong with her I used boric acid on her eyes once a day, I gave her a few drops of apple cider on the back of her neck & a few drops in her food which stopped her diarrhea, vomiting & the worse infected eye was completely closed is now wide open & doing great.
I just paid a bundle for my vet. Which his treatments made my cat have convulsions and she died. But with my new kitty I can't do any worse by trying out new home remedies. I also open up a omega3 capsule & mix in her food, she is thriving immensely and way beyond the kitten I found wandering out in a blizzard.
I find that what we share in here some one has already tried it, besides how can we get any worse its mostly natural;it was also found that animals have the same DNA as humans do, so if I can do these remedies why not animals only a smaller dodage. Be sure to say a few prayers. Good luck..."
06/17/2011: Debby from Peoria, Illinois replies: "My male cat had this same problem. He was allergic to the scent in the kitty litter. He also had bald patches where he bit off his fur. I changed to non-scented kitty litter and he is fine."
11/05/2011: Iceander from Milwakee, Wi replies: "Cats can get chin acne from plastic food & water bowls. Use clean ceramic ware for their food & water."
05/05/2012: "I went to unscented clay litter. The scoopable perfummy dusty litter was being ingested and chin scratching was causing an allergy. My cats cleared up after a couple of weeks and I have not scrubbed a chin in months they are now fine. Cat acne[dirty chin /stress is bull] I washed scrubbed soap [peroxide] 3 times a day, would start to clear then come back, changed diet washed water and food bowls, nothing worked till I got rid of synthetic [plastic] perfummy dusty litter. It is not healthy."
05/15/2014: Ginny from Austin Tx replies: "My kitten also had that, she is 3 years old in august, I ask my vet and she said it could be from her food bowls, well she is spoiled, she has a ceramic bowl with goldfish on it and drinks from a stainless steel water dish, so I know it wasnt that, I keep them clean, so she suggested I get some benzyol peroxide and try that, I did and it worked, but the problem was you have to wrap them in a towel to apply and most cats dont like being restrained, also would help if they cant smell it. lol but it does work."
10/18/2010: Jane from Campbell, California, Usa: "Cat chin acne refers to black dots to larger black scabs on the cat's chin. This is likely due to a plastic food or water bowl that is not being washed on a daily or frequent basis. Plastic picks up bacteria and the cat acne occurs when the cat's chin touches the food bowel. I threw out the plastic food dish that I was using for dry food. I confess, I was just refilling the bowl with dry food and only washing the bowl every other week or so. I used hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball to wash my cat's chin area. Get the cotton ball really wet with 2% hydrogen peroxide before applying. This does not sting and the cat will probably not put up a fuss. My cat let me do it without complaint. I also used a healing salve on the chin. If you also use an antibiotic salve make sure it does not have a warning that says "Not for internal use. " The cat may try to lick off the salve. It took about 2 weeks washing the chin several times a day before the rather thick black scabs went away. My cat lost hair where this occurred, but the hair grew back quickly. If you see little black scab dots on the cat's chin (that you think might just be dirt), get going with the hydrogen peroxide right away and this will not develop into large black scabs. REMINDER: If you use plastic food dishes for dry food or water, wash them frequently - every day would be best. Better yet, use stainless steel bowls or ceramic bowls."Replies
03/09/2012: Jane from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada replies: "For cat chin acne, try Bag Balm ointment. My cat had very bad chin acne and we tried so many things but nothing really worked for long. But I read about using Bag Balm on another cat website and tried it, and within a couple of days we saw the sores going away. Now the acne is gone but I continue to use the ointment every couple of weeks as a preventative. It's about $6 for a tin (bright green, square tin) and it lasts forever and has a ton of other uses. You can find it at most drug stores in North America.
FYI: I have another cat that eats the same food and uses the same ceramic dishes and she never has had the acne, go figure."
10/04/2011: Linda from Wolverhampton, Staffordshire: "Hi, can anyone tell me if I can use Borax to clean the stains from my cats coats, especially on their faces. They are longhaired Persians which I show but they get staining around their eyes and down the sides of their noses, also around their rear ends. This is worse on the white cats and the fur becomes reddy brown. If I can use it, can you tell me how to do this and also, will it harm them if they inhale it or get it into their eyes? At the moment, I use boric acid."
01/03/2013: Wendy from Lethbridge, Alberta: "I'm hoping you can help me. I am looking for a natural remedy for my cat. She is 10 and has had a long-time problem with allergies. She has been obsessively licking for many years, but now she is pulling her hair out. She also can be grumpy and agressive with people and other animals. I tried a pill from the vet but it didn't really do anything and has bad side effects. Thank you very much, Wendy"Replies
01/04/2013: Wendy from Columbus, Oh/usa replies: "Search for "ACV" here on EC and all its many uses for pets.
Make sure you get the organic Apple Cider Vinegar, the one with "the mother" which is the nutrient-rich sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Just shake the bottle before using. Then add a teaspoon to her food and mix it all up.
You can also dilute it 1/2 and 1/2 with spring water, wet a paper towel with the solution, and gently wipe her fur and skin with it. It's fine if she licks it off. The ACV is good for her.
The ACV should ease, and eventually eliminate, her allergies."
[YEA] 09/24/2008: Kyrie from New York, NY: "A cat's skin is much more sensitive than human skin so please consider this when using anything on them that stings.
Also, I have read in numerous places that essential oils, even on flea collars, can be lethal to cats. Putting motor oil, which is a carcinogen (as is petroleum jelly), on an animal that cleans itself with its mouth, I would think that could be dangerous. While I still wouldn't put it on a horse, they are different than cats and dogs and will not likely ingest it.
Now onto ringworm:
Both my cat and I are sick - we were both exposed to large doses of a pesticide, in an enclosed area, and now both of our immune systems are having issues. Add to that, we both caught ringworm, from a stray kitten, on a cross country trip. I have found, being that I have a compromised immune system (isn't working at all) that getting rid of ringworm has been difficult as I am having to get to the underlying causes in order to really get rid of it (in chinese medicine - dampness). Ringworm is related to all the things you hear about that start with the word tinea - such as athlete's foot, nail fungus, scalp itch, jock itch (pardon my bluntness). And as any one who has had any of these knows, it's really difficult to treat. So even when you treat the raised sore, you have often not gotten rid of it (I think it is systemic but I might be wrong). So, if you are ready to take it out completely, you will have to address not only the lesions but clothing, bedding, floors, etc. You may not show sores but you may have it (itchy scalp? White soft buildup? Crusty ears? Itching anywhere?).
So even tho it is caustic, I use bleach if I have to wash floors. And where I can't, I use plain old salt. For my kitty's ears, I took a damp washcloth soaked in a high saline solution (kosher sea salt) and just applied it directly to the ringworm. This kills it within a short period of time (10 minutes should be plenty). It stings while the fungus is alive and stops when it is dead. I have found one application to be sufficient if you treat the other areas. For humans, swimming in the ocean is a way to alleviate it on the skin, scalp, etc. What you have to be careful of is when you put your clothes back on - or your kitty goes and lays down where he usually does - he and you are probably reinfecting yourselves.
When not near the ocean, I like to take kosher sea salt baths - 1.5 lbs in bath water (this is a very heavy concentration but I like it). After I am done with the bath - I throw my clothes in the water and soak them before washing them. Unlike when I swim in the ocean which leaves a residue and dries out my hair, the kosher salt leaves my hair really wonderful. I don't use shampoo on those days and my hair has been stripped of all the impurities that build up (yeast/fungus in your hair makes it slightly gooey).
Supposedly dry cleaning kills it as well.
Now this is a lot of work. I'm pretty sick so its been hard clearing it and you might not be as susceptible, but your cat or dog who is scratching and you don't see anything, or their ears are red and sensitive might be harboring more of the fungus.
I once went to a health food store and the woman behind the counter told me that she had had it a while back and had successfully treated it. I did not have it at the time. I caught it again from her - and it was a particularly virulent strain - it took a lot to cleanse that one out. She had simply suppressed the lesions.
The other thing to do is treat yourself and animal on a nutritional basis. Good food, pure water, etc is a great help. Fungus loves sugar (see candida - it's a fungus as well), so out went all the junk.
I am being treated by a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and he is helping me on a constitutional level so I don't self prescribe - I let him do his work. But I do take the baths whenever I know i've come into contact with a fungus (I am sens to it now and know - I sometimes pick it up outdoors or on my own keyboard). My cat gets homeopathic remedies which clear it out of his system. Berberis is a great acute for ringworm. In a pinch (and not in true homeopathic prescribing, ringworm is a remedy as well as well that can be ordered from Helios, and that also knocks it out).
My kitty lets me put the damp cloth on his sensitive ears without much of a fuss and its a good holdover until the remedy kicks in (can take up to 4 weeks or so to be fully cleared and may need to be repeated every 3 months depending on how deep a level it affected the animal). You'll know. He still gets it but it is getting weaker and weaker in him.
I am also going to start him on hydrogen peroxide therapy as well after reading this wonderful site!
Sorry this isn't incredibly simple but it works! I hope this can help someone."Replies
12/19/2008: Martina from Vancouver, BC, Canada replies: "I had ringworm once and I immediately sprayed the circle with Lysol antiseptic because Lysol kills fungus. It worked after one application!"
12/21/2008: Joyce from Joelton, Tn. replies: "Hi Kyrie, My suggestion won't be much help for you and your kitty's ringworms now but make a mental note for next year. Do you recognize a black walnut tree when you see it? Next year gather some of those black walnuts with the green hulls still on them. They will dry up a ringworm faster than anything I know of - worked much better than the expensive meds prescribed by 2 dermatologists. You could see a big difference after slicing a little of it off and rubbing it on his "cat ringworm" of the scalp after just rubbing it twice with it. That ringworm that had progressed to a kerion after several weeks of treatment was cured by the green hulls of black walnuts gathered free from the woods.
Of course you can probably find an extract or tincture of black walnut hulls at a health food store now, and it would probably do the same and wouldn't harm your kitty if it licked it off while bathing.
Next year, if you want to make your own, the rule of thumb for preparing your own herbals is l part herb to l part diluent when using fresh herbs. If using dried herbs, its l part herb to 2 parts diluent. The diluent is usually alcohol or vinegar. If it is to be used internally or might be licked off by a pet, make sure you use the alcohol from the liquor store, not wood or rubbing alcohol.
You will find many good books on how to recognize, gather and prepare herbals and what they are used for, as well as lots of information on line."
04/28/2009: Betty from Berryville, Arkansas: "I have a cat that has lost all his hair on both sides. There is no red skin or sores. He does have a lot of burrs matted up in his fur. He is a long hair cat and he stays outdoors. Is this mange? If not, can anyone tell me what it is? Thank you, Betty"
01/30/2009: Timothy from Chattanooga, Tennessee: "HELP Please I have a ernest hemmingway cat who is suffering from severe dry skin and dandruff I am too poor to take her to the vet but I love her very much and need to know if there are any home remidies I might use to help her."Replies
02/01/2009: Andree from Phoenix, AZ replies: "Go to the grocery store and get her some pet vitamines. They are cheap and will help her skin."
02/01/2009: Rosy from Orlando, Fl replies: "The dry skin is probably an allergy to something. I would add some organic apple cider vinegar to her water. I get it for $3.99 a bottle at the vitamin shoppe.
After that make sure you are feeding her foods with out grains. This can be a bit costly, but worth it. My cats are picky and only eat kibble, I like to get a big, 25lb bag and separate it into smaller gallon size bags and freeze them to prevent it from going stale. I get my food from Petco, they have a great program were you can get one bag for free after buying ten within a year.
If you give her baths use only organic soaps, and use only neem oil to prevent fleas. I like to bathe my kitties once every 6 months and I mix 1/8 cup Dr Bronner's liquid soap with a dropper full of neem oil. I then add it to lukewarm water, then dunk the kitties, scrub good and rinse with lots of clean water.
If you bathe to often her skin could be drying out from the sls in most soap. If she is eating food with grain she could be suffering from food allergies, and the same with Organic ACV. It seems to help out the ph in you kitties body and heal some skin issues along with it.
I hope that helps, I know how it feels when you are feeling helpless with your fur babies!"
03/21/2010: Lois from Rockford, Il replies: "My cat would lick her fur off her belly and inside her legs to the point where she had no fur at all there. One day while I was cleaning her litter box, I realized the 'odor-eliminating' scent was really strong. My family has a problem with strong scents, they cause headaches and sinus problems, and a little lightbulb went on-maybe the scented litter was irritating her skin. I found an unscented litter,(I had to go to two stores to find it), and after cleaning her box thoroughly I put the new litter inside. She quit licking after a few days, and her fur grew back nicely. Last winter I accidentally bought a scented brand of litter, and the licking and fur loss came back. Now I pay attention to the package."
01/23/2013: Lilvaltig from Dutton, Alabama: "Today I just noticed that my cat has a swollen chin, it's bigger than normal. And possibly might be starting to bald, I don't want to go to the vet to ask wats going on to get an outragous pet bill for nothing, when theres something I could have done at home that isnt as costly, was just going to wait a few days and see if the swelling goes down, give her a bath and put a warm washrag in it. It doesn't bother her at all so I don't know what else I should do."Replies
01/28/2013: Tala from Cary, Il replies: "Plastic water or food dishes could be the problem."
01/28/2013: Wendy from Columbus, Oh replies: "Replace plastic dishes (both food and water dishes) with stainless steel dishes."
02/02/2013: Angela from Cary, NC replies: "Do you think the cat has been bit or in a fight? I would gently shave the area if it is too furry. Take a dilution of Apple Cider Vinegar the one with the mother in it and water. 50/50 dilution. Warm it slightly and keep aorta ting warm rag compresses for up to 15 min or as long as he will allow. Do this every few hours and I would also take a capful of the dilution and soak it in to the nape of their neck. You would be amazed if the cat has an infection their licking and it absorbing into the skin will stop an infection in its tracks. Good luck I sure hope it works and I'm sorry your little one is going through this..."