Treating A Scaly Patch of Cat Skin

by Julie
(Indianapolis, Indiana)

Reader Question: How To Treat Kitten With Scaly Patch of Skin

A couple months ago, my boyfriend and I adopted a 10-week-old Scottish Fold kitten from a shelter. Shortly after bringing him home, we noticed a circular, hairless, scaly patch of skin on his head. It didn't fluoresce under a black light when we took him to a vet, so we were told ringworm was unlikely (and we hadn't seen any rashes on ourselves). We were given some Tresaderm to apply topically to the rash.

We got home with the tresaderm and noticed the instructions were for use with ear mites. In retrospect, it was silly of us to not call the vet for clarification on the instructions, but we just thought we should apply it twice a day until it cleared up. We used it for around two weeks like that, and then the hair seemed to be growing back. It still seemed like there was a scaly patch that wasn't healing, but we figured he was getting better and the vet said it might take a while for the hair to grow back.

Well I was just examining his head yesterday and noticed it was still scaly, and it's been about a month since the vet visit now. We haven't been using the tresaderm for about two weeks, but I put some on him hoping it would clear the rest of it up.

While his hair was wet and matted down, I noticed the scaly part of skin is part of a larger, dark, circular patch of skin that we didn't notice before since he has dark fur in that spot. I don't know what it is, and I'm very worried. He's still a
kitten and is about 17 weeks old now. Most of the stuff I was able to find online seems to suggest skin cancer, but he seems too young for that!

He doesn't have mites or fleas, the patch of skin doesn't seem to bother him at all, he's gaining weight fine and always has tons of energy. He's strictly an indoor cat, and we have another cat, an Old Persian, that seems to be fine. I found some sources online that said Tresaderm shouldn't be used for more than a week, so I didn't know if that had anything to do with it? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Sorry the picture isn't the best quality.

Vet Responds To Reader Question On Treating A Kitten With Scaly Skin

Hi Julie,

It sounds like your veterinarian and I approach the diagnosis of ringworm differently. I will use a black light as a screening tool but would never discount the possibility of ringworm based only on a lack of fluorescence – some species of ringworm don’t glow at all under the blacklight. I would certainly bring your kitten back in to a veterinarian for a fungal culture. This is a very simple test that involves plucking some hairs from around the skin lesions, implanting them in a special growth medium, and identifying anything that grows.

Unfortunately, it can take up to three weeks to get the results of a fungal culture, but maybe your veterinarian can suggest some other treatment options while you are waiting. It sounds like he hasn’t completely discounted the possibility of ringworm, since Tresaderm can be prescribed for that disease when only a small area of skin is affected.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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