Kitty acne is an extremely common skin disease which typically first affects the chin area. In mild cases clinical signs of skin irritation and blackhead formation should resolve in two to three weeks’ time with topical therapy. Various causes of this condition have been postulated: over production of sebum from local sebaceous glands, bacterial overload, poor grooming, contact sensitivity/dermatitis, immunosuppression or a combination of one or more of these conditions.
Often switching from plastic bowls, whose surfaces may retain greater levels of bacteria, to those made from metal or ceramics, and increasing the frequency of cleaning of bowls with hot, soapy water combined with cleansing of the affected area will help. Often kitty acne is a problem to be managed, not cured.
As with human faces, lesions should never be picked or popped because doing this causes greater inflammation, increases the risk of developing a deep seated skin infection and scarring, but most importantly, it just plain hurts. It is also best to avoid topical treatment with harsh chemicals such as essential oils and hydrogen peroxide, both of which can be extremely irritating to broken skin. Essential oils should never be used around sensitive mucous membranes, mouth and nose, or the eyes as the fumes can be harmful. Hydrogen peroxide, contrary to common belief and “Dr. Google,” should never be used on open wounds because its thermic activity on fragile, healing tissues negatively impacts and delays their repair. Also, unlike teenagers, cats should never be treated with salicylic acid because it is closely related to the chemical acetylsalicylic acid, a.k.a. aspirin, which is toxic to cats in low dosages because they metabolize it very slowly, increasing the chances of serious harm after receiving comparatively micro amounts. Benzoyl peroxide on the other hand is a very good option as it flushes hair follicles, inhibits comedome formation, i.e. blackheads, it is bactericidal (kills bacteria) and it works well in combination with antibiotics.
If after implementing all of the aforementioned suggestions, no improvement is seen, you should seek veterinary medical care as your diagnosis may be incorrect resulting in treatment failure, or the underlying condition may be complicated by a deep-seated infection, folliculitis, which can necessitate daily, topical care and systemic antibiotic therapy as well as short-term analgesic relief for cats experiencing pain.