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Published: Nov 17, 2011

Cats can develop skin problems, some that are painful and others that may be unsightly. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, one condition that cats can develop is a disorder of follicular keratinization, commonly called chin acne.

The term keratinization refers to the overproduction of a protein called keratin that is found in the outer layer of cats' skin. If excess amounts of the protein gets trapped in hair follicles, then "blackheads" or "pimples," similar to the acne found on humans, can form.

Clinical signs that a cat may be suffering from chin acne include a "dirty" looking appearance on its chin, although the blemishes can also occur on the lower or upper lip as well. The areas may be swollen and painful if touched, so owners need to be careful when addressing the problem.

Chin acne can be related to feeding cats out of plastic bowls. The nooks and crannies of plastic bowls harbor bacteria which may lead to this unsightly condition. However, if you change out your cats plastic bowl for a ceramic or stainless steel one and the issue still persists, you should bring your cat to the veterinarian health clinic for an examination. There may be an underlying allergy or other medical problem responsible for the chin acne. Tests that may be done include blood and urine tests, culture of the acne or sometimes even a biopsy to make sure the acne is nothing more serious.

Other possible treatments for chin acne include omega-3 fatty acid supplement, special acne cleansers and occasionally medicated antiseborrheic shampoo to cleanse the infected areas.