Miliary dermatitis (also known as miliary eczema, papulocrusting dermatitis or scabby cat disease) isn't a specific disease but a disease complex. It is characterised 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 miliary dermatitis in cats?
There are a number of causes of feline miliary dermatitis including:
- Red, crusty bumps, especially around the head, neck, and back, often with intense itching.
- Hair loss.
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.
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 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.