A kitten with facial alopecia sports a thinning coat with bald patches on her cheeks, nose and lips. It's essential that you pinpoint the cause of the baldness to get started with treatment. Your kitten's cry will change from me-oh to me-wow.
What Is Facial Alopecia?
Alopecia simply means hair loss. Facial alopecia is loss of hair or baldness on your kitten’s face and/or head area. In older cats, facial alopecia is a natural part of the aging process. It’s common for cats to slowly lose hair in front of their ears as they gracefully make the leap from adult to senior. Though unsightly, alopecia isn’t a medical disease or disorder in itself but rather a symptom of possible problems. Facial alopecia looks similar on kittens and adult cats, however, it's standard for aging adults but uncommon in kittens.
In kittens, facial alopecia is usually a sign of an underlying infection, disorder or disease including bacteria, fungi, parasites, allergies, autoimmune disease or hyperthyroidism. Healthy kittens continuously develop their coats during kittenhood; any hair loss on your kitten’s face should prompt a vet visit. Your veterinarian may do blood work and examine your kitten’s hair follicles in order to pinpoint the cause of her alopecia.
Kittens less than a year old are susceptible to ringworm. Their immune systems are still developing, making them unable to properly fight off the infection. Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin that causes hair loss and itchiness. Facial alopecia is a common symptom of ringworm; it can take the form of a cluster of broken hairs or small and red bald patches on your kitten’s face. Ringworm is highly contagious to humans and other cats, so it’s imperative to get your kitten to your vet as soon as possible.
Treatment for facial alopecia depends on the root cause of the alopecia. Most bacterial skin infections respond well to a course of antibiotics. Fungal infections can be much more difficult to treat. Mild to moderate cases require medicated baths, lotions and dips. In severe cases, your vet will most likely prescribe oral antifungal drugs such as griseofulvin or itraconizole. Whatever the case you’re in it for the long haul; treatment continues for several months, as ringworm is tough to purge. Autoimmune ailments such as nasal dematoses, loss of hair and pigmentation on the nose respond well to cortisone lotion or prednisone.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.