Your cat’s incessant scratching could indicate more than just dry skin. Feline miliary dermatitis, also known as "feline eczema" or "scabby cat disease," can plague her skin with collections of small red bumps. Eczema in cats is not a final diagnosis in itself but a symptom of an underlying condition.
Cats with eczema generally develop crusty rashes that may affect the head, neck and back. While examining your furry buddy, you may notice red, raised bumps topped with scales, raw patches of skin, and hair loss caused by excessive scratching and licking. Feline eczema is very itchy, and the skin may break down and become infected if your cat continues to scratch or groom excessively.
Bacterial, fungal, parasitic and yeast infections are all possible causes of feline eczema. Cats can suffer an allergic reaction to a variety of environmental allergens, including the bites of fleas, lice, mites and mosquitoes. The most common cause of feline miliary dermatitis is flea bite hypersensitivity, which can be triggered by just a single flea bite. Food allergies, autoimmune diseases, hormonal conditions and nutritional disorders may also be to blame for your beloved cat’s case of eczema.
Feline eczema requires a physical examination by your vet to help determine the underlying cause. The location of the lesions is sometimes helpful for diagnostic purposes. For example, lesions found at the base of the tail point to a flea infestation, while lesions around the head are often caused by mites. Your vet may use a flea comb to manually check your pet’s skin and hair for signs of parasites. Medications and antibiotics will be prescribed as needed, according to the diagnosis. If your vet suspects a food allergy, he may suggest placing your cat on a food trial for several months.
Eczema in cats is treated according to the underlying cause. Bacterial infections are generally treated with an oral course of antibiotics, while other types of infections may require topical ointments to treat sores. If pestering parasites like fleas are causing your cat distress, your vet may recommend a strict flea control regimen. Antihistamines may be prescribed for your cat to help relieve his uncontrollable itching.
Based in northern New York, Brandy Burgess has been writing on pets, technical documentation and health resources since 2007. She also writes on personal development for YourFreelanceWritingCareer.com. Burgess' work also has appeared on various online publications, including eHow.com. Burgess holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer information systems from DeVry University and her certified nurses aid certification.