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Due to the fact that hairless cats lack their coat, they are prone to all sorts of skin problems. Breeds like the Sphynx, Peterbald, Donskoy, Bambino, Ukrainian Levkoy, and Elf are completely hairless leaving them without their natural protective barrier.
This bald feature comes with exposure and lack of protection against natural elements, leaving their skin susceptible to damage and oxidative stress, leading to inflammation.
We know that inflammation is the body’s natural response to irritants and is at the heart of most skin conditions affecting these cats, especially the sphynx breed.
Hygiene and skin care is the basic necessity for these breeds to prevent skin problems and diseases that can come about. Let’s take a closer look at some of the skin issues that are common in the sphynx breed as well as other hairless breeds.
1. Urticaria Pigmentosa.
Feline Urticaria Pigmentosa is a form of a condition known as cutaneous mastocytosis.
This skin problem presents with lesions that have numerous red spots that sit on a raised rash and is itchy.
This skin condition is common with the sphynx breed as well as other hairless breeds.
The direct cause of feline urticaria pigmentosa remains unknown.
Because the condition has been primarily identified in naked cat breeds, studies suggest (Nolie et al, 2009) that the disease may be related to this phenotype (hairless feature).
Other possible causes for this skin problem include irritants such as parasites, food allergens, and environmental allergens.
Although the issue can be successfully controlled, this condition does have a potential for systemic progression and can affect internal organs. This is why it is important for sphynx owners to keep an eye on clinical symptoms.
Normally diagnosis is based on a physical examination and a skin biopsy. In cats, the condition is generally successfully treated with glucocorticoids, essential fatty acids (oral supplements), and antihistamines.
2. Feline Acne.
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when the follicles or pores on the skin are clogged.
Hairless cats are naked and fully exposed to natural elements. This makes their pores susceptible to clogging thus causing acne.
Apart from this, the natural sebum that is produced by their skin isn’t absorbed since they have no coat.
This excess sebum accumulates on their bodies attracting dust and debris. This worsens the situation making them even more prone to getting acne.
Acne can present with blackheads, whiteheads, or small red bumps on the skin.
Skin care and maintenance is a priority, especially for the sphynx breed which is known for this skin condition.
Treatment involves cleaning pores, removing accumulated dead cells and oils from blackheads, and regularly bathing with a mild antibacterial soap.
Normally an anti-seborrheic shampoo is used to wash the affected area, making sure they are towel dried completely.
Since hairless cats are prone to acne it’s important to have a skincare routine for them with the right products that won’t clog their pores.
Their skin is sensitive and must be cared for to prevent these problems from reoccurring.
3. Contact Dermatitis.
Hairless cats have sensitive skin and require additional maintenance to remain healthy. In the case of Contact Dermatitis, the cat may have come in contact with some kind of irritants that its skin is reacting to.
Symptoms include red, itchy bumpy skin that is inflamed. Most causes include scented products, chemicals, rubber leashes, or plastic food bowls.
There can be many other causes, too many to name but what’s important is that you identify these causes and act accordingly to prevent this.
Normally the irritation will go away once the irritant is removed from their surroundings.
Remember to always treat these skin conditions earlier to prevent skin damage and infection from starting.
Hairless cats cannot be exposed to the sun for long periods. It’s advisable that these cats stay away from direct sunlight from 10 am to 3 pm to prevent Sunburns/Solar Dermatitis.
Symptoms of sunburns consist of blotchy brown spots, redness, itch, and can even be sore. In severe cases, the sunburn can become ulcerated and bleed.
Treatment is dependent on severity, normally a cold compress could relieve the burning sensation and help regulate skin temperature limiting damage.
But with an open wound, it’s important to consult with your local vet for proper treatment before it gets infected.
Another reason to protect your hairless cat from the sun is to prevent cancer. Cancer can be caused by the harmful UV rays of the sun. Cancer is extremely dangerous and deadly if its untreatable.
This is why Sunscreen is important as well as kitty clothing to help prevent direct contact with the sun on days that you are outdoors.
5. Stud Tail.
This is caused by the sebaceous glands near the cat’s tail that are overactive and secrete excessive sebum.
The result is a greasy brown substance that looks like acne that collects near the tail base. The cat will feel irritation in that area as well as soreness and will try to soothe itself.
This condition is common in un-neutered males but fixed males and females can also get it.
Diagnosis involves physical examination, diagnostic tests, and analysis to check for infection.
Treatment involves daily washing of the affected area with an anti-seborrheic shampoo.
In more severe cases ointments, anti-inflammatory medication, or antibiotics can help alleviate symptoms. Your cat will also get a cone to prevent interference in the affected area until the area clears up.
6. Dry and Itchy Skin.
Owners of hairless cats normally bathe them regularly to keep them clean and smelling fresh.
Hairless cats are known for feeling greasy and sticky to the touch. This is because their hairless feature prevents sebum from being absorbed.
This means that their bodies produce natural oils which accumulate on the surface of their skin. This is why they are always dirty since oil attracts dirt.
Although regular bathing is required for hygiene purposes. Too much bathing can cause dry, itchy, and flaky skin.
This happens when their skin loses its protective barrier hence moisture is lost. This causes dry and Itchy Skin which can lead to ulcerations and infections.
Part of the treatment in this situation requires a good moisturizer to restore moisture to the skin.
Quality Coconut oil is a firm favorite for most sphynx owners as it gets the job done.
7. Food Allergies
With my knowledge of the sphynx breed, I can tell that these cats have sensitive stomachs. This problem seems to specifically target hairless breeds.
Most ingredients that these cats are allergic to are present in almost 90% of commercial pet foods. That’s why finding the right diet for your hairless cat is difficult.
An allergic reaction will present will all sorts of skin issues such as rash, pimples, discoloration, inflammation, and Itchy Skin which can lead to open wounds.
With hairless breeds, these symptoms are clearly visible due to their hairless nature. Their skin is exposed.
Most of these cats have a problem digesting certain ingredients. Substances such as chicken, beef, fish, lamb, wheat, and dairy products can be difficult for their bodies to digest.
For this reason, most owners opt for a raw homemade diet that is more natural and easily digestible to suit your cat’s personal needs.
This is a safer option since it will be free from artificial ingredients, flavorings, and fillers.
Ultimately it’s important to remember that gut health directly affects the health of the skin. Make sure you provide nutrient-rich foods that are balanced to support the cat’s natural defenses.
Ringworm is a common skin disorder that affects cats as well as humans. This is a fungal infection normally found in the sand that attaches itself to a host and can live off it.
Once this fungus attaches itself to your cat, it feeds off the keratin found on nails, hair, or skin. These microorganisms reproduce rapidly causing circular areas of Itchy skin.
Symptoms are often described as round circular rings of redness and inflammation.
This infection is very contagious and must be treated immediately to prevent lesions and severe symptoms.
Diagnosis often requires a yellow-green fluorescence for the cat to be examined under a special ultraviolet lamp. Your vet may also take a swab of the fungi for additional testing.
Treatment requires the use of topical creams, ointments, and shampoos as well as antifungal medication.
For treatment to work, all contamination must be eliminated. This means that the environment your cat is in must be cleaned and properly sanitized.
Fleas are unpleasant small parasites that feed off blood causing great discomfort and pain.
This parasite causes intense itching, swollen bumps, irritation, scabs, and open wounds.
Fleas can transmit diseases that can be fatal to your cat well being. These blood suckers often attach to cats from outdoor encounters or from other pets.
Diagnosis may only require physical examination since these parasites are very visible.
Treatment involves eliminating as many fleas as possible by physical extractions. Flea treatment control is also a great product that comes either as a topical ointment or oral medication.
10. Yeast Infections
Yeast infections are caused by fungi which are parasitic organisms that produce spores. These fungal infections normally affect the skin but other parts of the body can also be affected.
Symptoms include greasy skin, scaly texture, redness and thickening, discharge, and lesions. In more severe cases it can cause respiratory infections which can lead to difficulty breathing.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of fungi since some fungi target specific organs and cause localized issues.
This infection is normally diagnosed by a blood test, urine test, and skin examination to obtain a culture.
Treatment may include medicated shampoos to soothe skin and eliminate odors as well as antibiotics and antifungal medications.