Cat World > Cat Health > Miliary Dermatitis in Cats - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Miliary Dermatitis in Cats - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is miliary dermatitis?

Miliary dermatitis (also known as miliary eczema, papulocrusting dermatitis or scabby cat disease) isn't a specific disease but a disease complex. It is characterized by a red and crusty rash around the head, neck and back, often with intense itching (pruritis).

The name miliary dermatitis is derived from the lesions which have a millet seed type appearance.

What causes it?

There are a number of causes of feline miliary dermatitis including:

  • Flea bite hypersensitivity this is the most common cause of feline miliary dermatitis.
  • Allergies, food intolerance, inhalant allergy, food allergy.
  • Bacterial infections.
  • Mites.
  • Mange.
  • Ringworm.
  • Immune mediated diseases.
  • Drug hypersensitivity.
  • Poor diet.
  • Hormonal/endocrine disorder.

What are the symptoms of feline miliary dermatitis?

  • Red, crusty bumps, especially around the head, neck and back, often with intense itching.
  • Hair loss.
  • Scratching.

How is feline miliary dermatitis diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your cat. He/she will want to identify what is causing feline miliary dermatitis so the correct treatment can be given. This may include;

  • The location of the lesions may provide a clue as to the cause. If they are close to the base of the tail then fleas are often the culprit. If they are around the head, mites  may be the cause.
  • Analysis of coat brushings, skin scrapings and fur samples to check for parasitic infections such as mites, fleas or fungal infections.
  • A fecal examination may be performed to detect the presence of intestinal parasites.
  • Biochemical profile to see is an underlying medical condition causing the problem.
  • A skin biopsy.
  • Allergy testing to see if inhalant antigens are the cause.

How is feline miliary dermatitis treated?

Treatment of feline miliary dermatitis depends on the cause of the problem.

  • If it is fleas, then removal of the fleas from the cat and environment should cure the problem. Strict flea control will need to be performed routinely to ensure the miliary dermatitis doesn't recur.
  • The same goes for mites, mange or fungal or yeast infections. Treat the cause and the miliary dermatitis should go away.
  • If intestinal parasites are found to be the cause, treatment with the appropriate medication to eliminate them.
  • A hypoallergenic diet may be tried if parasites, yeast infections, fungal infections etc., are ruled out.
  • Antibiotics for secondary skin infections, if required.
  • Shampoos may be recommended to relieve itching and inflammation.
  • Other possible treatment options include fatty acids, antihistamines and corticosteroids.

Also see:

Hair loss in cats   Cat symptoms   Poor coat condition in cats   Scabs on cats