Allergic Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a general word for any type of inflammation of the skin that is usually used until a specific diagnosis is reached. You may notice small bumps, oozing areas, scabs and/or dandrufflike scales. Areas where scratchng is severe may become infected. Head-shaking and ear-scratching are also very common. If the cat is allowed to continue severe scratching, she can develop hair loss and thickening of the skin. Some cats, just like people develop reactions when exposed to allergen. Exposure to allergens can occur through inhalation, ingestion, inoculation, or insect bites, or direct contact with irritating agent. Take your cat to the vet. To determine if an allergy is responsible for your cat's condition (and what that allergy is), your vet will run several tests, including skin and blood evaluation. Skin testing involves injecting small amounts of common allergens under your cat's skin to note the animal's reactions. Blood tests, such as the RAST (radioallergosorbent test) or ELISA test, may be used in place of skin testing. Special elimination diets, usually lasting 4 to 8 weeks, can help pinpoint and treat food-related allergic dermatitis.

Your vet may recommend baths 1 to 2 times a week with a gentle hypoallergenic soap to help relieve skin inflammation and prevent secondary bacterial infection. Antioxidant therapy, especially with sulfur and zinc, can help reduce symptoms. Vitamin A, vitamins C, and E and beta-carotene may also be helpful. Once the guilty substance is discovered, keep it out of your cat's reach. If it is not a substance that can be eliminated from food or the environment, consider starting your pet on a desensitizing series of injections.

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