Acute Moist Dermatitis

Full Title: Acute Moist Dermatitis / Hot Spots in Canines

Author: Jennifer Williams

Date of Publication: January 30, 2013


Research Paper Text:

Acute moist dermatitis, also known as hot spots, is a warm, moist, painful, reddened bacterial infection that is a swollen patch of skin that is 1 to 4 inches across that secretes pus and gives off a foul odor. A hot spot starts because something has irritated the skin. The body’s response is to either itch or become inflamed. The itching causes the dog to continue to lick or chew the site which further damages the skin and creates a cycle of itching, scratching and chewing.

These circular patches appear suddenly and enlarge quickly, often within a matter of hours. The sore is generally hot to the touch, hence the term “hot spot”. Since the dog continues to lick the area which expands the sore, this can cause serious injury, infection and even death if left untreated.

Hot spots can be caused by anything that aggravates the skin and irritates an itch-scratch cycle, but the most common irritants are fleas, mites, other skin parasites, skin allergies, irritant skin diseases, ear and anal gland infections and neglected grooming are other factors that can initiate the itch-scratch-itch cycle.

Other causes are allergies, inhalant, food, parasitic disease, anal gland disease, poor grooming, tick and mosquito bites, burrs and summer heat. Hot spots are most common in long-haired and heavy-coated breeds and are more common during the summer months.

Hot spots can occur anywhere on the body, often in more than one spot. One very typical location is under the ear flaps in large breeds with heavy, hairy ears, such as Newfoundland’s and Golden Retrievers. Hot spots occur most often in breeds with heavy coats and tend to appear just before shedding when moist, dead hair is trapped next to the skin.

Typically, hot spots can be detected when dogs exhibit the following:

  • Areas of hair loss with very red skin that is moist and has discharge
  • The skin becomes crusty or scabbed over
  • Intense scratching; Hot spots are extremely itchy which causes dogs to continue to scratch without letting up

Treatment of hot spots is extremely painful. The dog usually will need to be sedated or anesthetized for the initial treatment. Your veterinarian will clip away hair to expose the hot spot, then gently cleanse the skin with a dilute povidone-iodine shampoo (Betadine) or a chlorhexidine shampoo (Nolvasan) and allow the skin to dry. An antibiotic steroid cream or powder (Panolog or Neocort) is then applied twice a day for 10 to 14 days. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed. Predisposing skin problems must be treated as well.

Your veterinarian may also prescribe a short course of oral corticosteroids to control severe itching. Prevent the dog from traumatizing the area by using an Elizabethan collar or a BiteNot collar.

In hot, humid weather, always be sure to dry your heavy-coated dog thoroughly after bathing or after he / her swims. Otherwise, the conditions are a perfect storm for a hot spot to develop.



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