Acral Lick Dermatitis. Acral lick dermatitis is a firm, raised, ulcerative,
or thickened plaque usually located on the back side of the ankle, or between the toes.
The age at which it occurs in cats varies with the cause. Some veterinarians believe
it may more commonly affect males, while others indicate there is no predisposition. The following are some symptoms that may be
observed if your cat is suffering from acral lick dermatitis: Excessive licking and chewing on the affected
area Occasionally, a history of trauma to the affected
area Bald, ulcerative, thickened, and raised firm
bumps (usually located on the back of the ankle, heel, or between the toes)
Lesions often occur singly, although they may occur in
more than one location Causes Skin diseases, such as staph infections.
Allergies. Hormone problems, such as hyperthyroidism.
Mites. Fungal infection.
Reaction to a foreign body. Cancer.
Nerve dysfunction. A veterinarian will first need to do a behavioral
history on your cat. The following are a list of other possible examinations generally used
to diagnose acral lick dermatitis: Skin scrapings, fungal and bacterial cultures,
biopsies and Tzanck preparations (for herpes infection)
Skin allergy testing � allergic cats often have multiple-lick inflammation and other
areas of itching compatible with the specific allergy
Laboratory tests to rule out endocrine diseases (such as hyperthyroidism), bacterial infections,
cancer, fungus infections, and parasites Food-elimination diet It is important that the veterinarian rule
out any underlying diseases prior to diagnosing neurologically caused (psychogenic) skin disorders. Acral lick disease is difficult to treat,
especially if no underlying cause is identified. Physical restraints such as Elizabethan collars
and bandaging can be used in the short term to prevent your cat from licking or biting
the irritated area. Your cat will need to get plenty of attention and exercise to rule
out any problems related to anxiety or boredom. If your veterinarian makes a diagnosis based
on behavioral problems, counter-conditioning may also help. Otherwise, and any major household
changes should be avoided if possible, or at least a safe space should be provided for
your cat so that environmental stressors are not an issue. Unless an allergy is suspected,
diet should remain the same. Surgery is only recommended if all other therapies have been
exhausted. Topical medications should be applied with
gloves to avoid contamination Cat must be kept from licking the treated
area for 10 to 15 minutes If an underlying disease is found to be the
cause, treating it should help prevent the dermatitis from recurring in your cat. If
it is not found, neurological causes — obsessive compulsive or self-mutilation disorders — may
be to blame. In these cases, prognosis is guarded. It is important
that you monitor your cat’s licking and chewing behavior.