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Acral Lick Dermatitis

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Skin Diseases in Cats that Involve Licking

 

Acral lick dermatitis is a firm, raised, ulcerative, or thickened plaque usually located on the back side of the ankle, or between the toes. The age at which it occurs in cats varies with the cause. Some veterinarians believe it may more commonly affect males, while others indicate there is no predisposition.

 

Symptoms and Types

 

The following are some symptoms that may be observed if your cat is suffering from acral lick dermatitis:

 

  • Excessive licking and chewing on the affected area
  • Occasionally, a history of trauma to the affected area
  • Bald, ulcerative, thickened, and raised firm bumps (usually located on the back of the ankle, heel, or between the toes)
  • Lesions often occur singly, although they may occur in more than one location

 

Causes

 

  • Skin diseases, such as staph infections
  • Allergies
  • Hormone problems, such as hyperthyroidism
  • Mites
  • Fungal infection
  • Reaction to a foreign body
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Trauma
  • Nerve dysfunction

 

Diagnosis

 

A veterinarian will first need to do a behavioral history on your cat. The following are a list of other possible examinations generally used to diagnose acral lick dermatitis:

 

  • Skin scrapings, fungal and bacterial cultures, biopsies and Tzanck preparations (for herpes infection)
  • Skin allergy testing – allergic cats often have multiple-lick inflammation and other areas of itching compatible with the specific allergy
  • Laboratory tests to rule out endocrine diseases (such as hyperthyroidism), bacterial infections, cancer, fungus infections, and parasites
  • Food-elimination diet

 

It is important that the veterinarian rule out any underlying diseases prior to diagnosing neurologically caused (psychogenic) skin disorders.

 

 

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