What is Skin Fold Dermatitis?
Intertrigo, more commonly known as Skin Fold Dermatitis, is a skin disease principally affecting obese cats and certain feline breeds that have natural skin folds. Friction between skin surfaces traps moisture, restricts ventilation and attracts bacteria growth that results in skin infections. These infections are not serious, but can become reoccurring if not properly treated and lead to a secondary bacterial infection known as pyoderma that worsens itchiness and emits an unpleasant odor.
How does my cat get Skin Fold Dermatitis?
Genetics and improper nutrition are the primary contributors to this skin condition. Certain cat breeds (such as Persians and Manx) sport excessive folds or wrinkles on their lips, face, vulva, tail or entire body. In Persians, a severe form is called idiopathic Persian facial dermatitis (or “dirty face”) that is illustrated by a black waxy material around the chin and eyes. Cats who are overfed and become obese can also develop Skin Fold Dermatitis due to the drooping excess skin on their frames.
How do I know if my cat has Skin Fold Dermatitis?
You may not know this condition by name, but you definitely will notice unpleasant changes in your cat’s skin. The areas marked by folds and wrinkles often are red, itchy, emit a foul odor and may have lesions, especially around the lips. During the examination, a veterinarian often will take skin scrapings and tape impression smears to confirm the diagnosis. It is important to thoroughly examine the cat from head to tail. Because of folds around the eyes, secondary pigmentary keratitis in the nasal side of the cornea may also be present.
What can I do about Skin Fold Dermatitis?
Work with your veterinarian to select the appropriate shampoos and topical creams and to learn how to clean and dry the skin fold areas on a daily basis to prevent infections. Also, feed your cat a quality diet, measuring the portions to prevent overfeeding. If infections occur, antibiotics and anti-itch medications may be warranted. In rare cases, surgery is performed to address excessive folding that causes chronic infections.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting Skin Fold Dermatitis?
Yes. Keeping your cat at a healthy weight will go a long way in preventing this skin infection from surfacing. If you have a cat breed with natural wrinkles or folds, keep the coat clean and aerated to prevent lesions or bacterial growth.
Are there certain breeds that get Skin Fold Dermatitis more often?
Yes, Persians, Persian types and Manx are at risk for developing this skin condition.