A ‘Hot spot’ or ‘Acute Moist Dermatitis’ is a localised area of skin inflammation and infection. Hot spots can occur in dogs and cats; however we do see them much more frequently in dogs. Hot spots are very common skin lesions usually caused by an animal scratching, biting or licking at one particular spot. This itchiness can be caused by:
- External parasites e.g fleas
- Existing skin wounds
- Existing skin surface infections with bacteria or yeast
- Skin allergies (due to underlying food allergies, contact allergies and inhalant allergies)
- Moist skin (e.g. after a bath)
- Stress or boredom
- Hormone diseases
‘Hot spots’ look like an area of skin where there is redness, itchiness, broken or irritated skin, oozing and pain. There is often loss of hair to the region, however many lesions may be covered by the animal’s hair coat, therefore disguising the full extent of the problem. ‘Hot spots’ can develop very quickly and hence progress to larger, nastier lesions in just a matter of hours. Because of this, it is best to contact your veterinarian promptly if you suspect your pet may have a ‘hot spot’.
Treatment for ‘hot spot’s’ may include:
- Clipping of the area: this is to remove the overlying hair, allowing air to access the lesion and help dry it out.
- Cleaning and disinfecting the area with an appropriate skin cleanser • Medications such as antibiotic tablets/injections, medicated creams and shampoos may be prescribed depending on the individual case.
- Elizabethan collars are also very useful in preventing your dog from further traumatising the hot spot by licking and chewing.
- Rest and a clean environment so that the lesion stays clean and dry.
You can help prevent your animal getting ‘hot spots’ by treating regularly for fleas and other external parasites; treating other skin conditions and reducing boredom and stress by providing an enriched environment for them. Most importantly, however, prevention is the key. It is also important to seek prompt veterinary attention to avoid the problem escalating from one small lesion to a huge messy skin problem that can be extremely painful and distressing for your much loved pet!