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Skin Ulcers and Depigmentation (Immune-Related) in Cats

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Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus in Cats


Cutaneous (dicoid) Lupus Erythematosus is an immune-mediated skin disease, or a disease brought on by abnormal activity of the immune system, whereby it attacks its own body. Relatively uncommon in cats, Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus is considered a variant of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).


Symptoms and Types


Symptoms of cutaneous lupus erythematosus depend on where the immune system is attacking the body, and may appear or disappear and vary in intensity. The following are a few of the more common symptoms seen in cats:


  • Skin depigmentation (loss of pigment) on the lip and tip of the nose
  • Formation of erosions and ulcers (following depigmentation)
  • Loss of tissue and scar formation to fill in the lost tissue
  • Chronic, fragile lesions (may bleed spontaneously)


Lesions associated with this disease may also involve the outer ear area and more rarely, the feet and genitalia.




Although the disease is brought on by abnormal activity of the immune system, the exact cause of the overactivity is unknown. Factors that are suspected to bring on the disease include drug reactions, viruses, and ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.




You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination as well a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count -- the results of which are typically normal. A small tissue sample may also be taken from the affected area for further evaluation.




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