Scabs on Cat: Feline acne, Flea allergy dermatitis, Skin condition treatment – Meowkai

Scabs on Cat: Feline acne, Flea allergy dermatitis, Skin condition treatment – Meowkai

Table of Contents

Cat ownership, (ok who am I kidding, I meant being owned by a cat), is a huge responsibility.

If you’re anything like me, you take that responsibility seriously and that means making sure that fluffy friend is as healthy and happy as possible.

It goes without saying that if you notice scabs on your cat, you’re bound to be concerned and maybe a bit alarmed. So, what are the different types of scabs and how do you treat them?

When it comes to shots for cats, cat parents have tons of questions. What vaccines do cats need?

What Are Cat Scabs?

Cat Scabs (miliary dermatitis) are defined as dry, crusty lesions or patches that form while a wound heals. So if you find a large or small scab on your cat, it means that your cat has been wounded either from an external source or from excessive scratching due to irritation.

There are several different types of scabs that cats can be afflicted with, but let’s have a look at 5 common types:

  1. Scabs around the neck and back

  2. Scabs around the head and ears

  3. Chin scabs

  4. Non-seasonal scabs

  5. Scabs as a result of stress

1. Scabs Around The Neck and Back

  • These type of scabs can be indicative of a hypersensitivity to flea bites, particularly if they are located close to the tail. This is the most common type of scab. Fleas are wingless parasites that live on your cat’s skin and feed on his blood. Read my guide on flea control to see treatment options
  • It is common for cats to develop an allergy to flea saliva, causing a localized reaction. These can become quite uncomfortable and itchy, and when your cat scratches at them, they can bleed and may result in an infection. The scabs can range in size from 3 mm to more than 1 cm.

The Solution

  • As with most things, prevention is the best way to make sure your cat doesn’t suffer. If your cat goes outside, a flea collar is a must. Every time they come in, check their fur and skin for any signs of lesions or fleas (ticks too!). Your vet may prescribe topical cream to rub on the scabs to heal faster and/or to stop the itching.
  • Ask your vet before using any home remedies like PolySporin, as it could be dangerous for your feline. Your vet may also prescribe a cream to kill and prevent fleas. If you have more than one cat, it’s important to treat them all.
  • Flea powder is NOT ALWAYS effective, so ask your vet before applying it to your cat. Also make sure that the environment indoors is free of fleas – that includes the cat bed, blankets, toys, etc.

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2. Scabs Around The Head and Ears (Miliary Dermatitis)

  • These scabs can be indicative of food allergies. While it doesn’t happen often, cats can develop allergies to food, just like humans, although the actual cause is unclear.
  • This would start out in a similar fashion to hives, and become very itchy. The most common spot for food allergy scabs is around the head and ears.
  • Allergic reactions may occur from a weak immune system or dust mites. There is an allergy test that can be taken known as the, "skin-prick test".
  • Other symptoms of food allergies include hair loss, excessive itching around the area, and vomiting. If you notice these along with the scabs then you can be pretty sure it’s caused by food allergies. Of course, your vet can give you the proper diagnosis after a thorough examination.

The Solution

  • If you have recently changed your cat’s diet, then switching back to their old food may be the quick and easy solution. If they’ve developed the allergy from a diet they’ve had for a long time, then treatment may take a bit longer.
  • The first thing your vet will recommend is changing your cat’s diet completely to something they’ve never eaten before. Once on this new diet for a few weeks, the scabs should clear up.
  • Then, you can introduce him to his usual food; if the symptoms reappear, then food was definitely the cause of the scabs. In this case, you should give your cat a hypoallergenic diet.
  • There are many brands of cat food on the market that are hypoallergenic so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one that suits your cat. You may have to try one or two before finding one he likes.

3. Chin Scabs


  • These are usually caused by feline acne (yes cats get zits too!). These are characterized by a cluster of acne spots under the chin. These become red and inflamed and can cause swelling, making your cat very uncomfortable.
  • While it’s unclear exactly what causes acne in cats, some experts believe it could be caused by either stress, or diet.
  • Some cats are sensitive to plastic, so consider switching out plastic bowls for a stainless steal or porcelain bowl.

The Solution

  • Luckily, these normally clear up fairly quickly by applying ointment that contains benzoyl peroxide or by using an anti-bacterial soap. As with other types of scabs, your vet is the only one who can make a positive diagnosis by conducting a thorough physical examination.

4. Non-Seasonal Cat Scabs

  • These are usually associated with allergies or dermatitis, especially if accompanied by itching and scratching.
  • Cats can become allergic to many different things around the house, such as shampoos, soaps, plants and medications. These allergies can be in the form of excessive itching and scratching, which may break the skin and appear as scabs.
  • If you give your cat baths, (‘cause cats love water!) you may have to switch to a hypoallergenic shampoo. Finding the culprit means taking things away one at a time until the scabs and itching clears up. If your cat has recently been prescribed medication, that could be the culprit as well.

The Solution

  • Your vet can give your cat a physical exam to determine the likely cause of the scabs. They may prescribe a topical cream or tablet to control the itching. They may ask questions such as what type of soaps or shampoo you’re using or if you’ve noticed your cat eating any specific plants.
  • The problem could even be from your fabric softener or laundry detergent. If your cat lies on your bed or a blanket you regularly wash, the remnants could rub off on their fur. It’s unclear why some cats develop allergies and some don’t.

5. Scabs from Stress


  • Cats can get stressed for any number of reasons, including a new addition, whether animal or human, being excessively teased or handled, moving house, sickness, or being left alone for long periods of time.
  • As a result, cats may over-groom themselves which can result in skin lesions and scabs can form on various parts of the body. Other cats may show stress by running off and hiding, or by not using their litter box.

The Solution

  • There are a number of anxiety-reducing products on the market today, including collars, plug-ins (resembling air fresheners, but they emit a calming effect for kitty) and treats that are meant to calm and relax your cat.
  • To help reduce stress, give your cat a regular routine and a dedicated area where they can go to sleep, play or just relax. Play therapy may also be recommended by your vet. If the stress is very severe, prescription medications may be needed.

Other Causes Of Scabs:

I’ve listed the more common conditions, but in some cases, there are other reasons why your cat may have scabs.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Skin Cancer: Yes, the sad truth is that cats can also get skin cancer. The more common types are:
    • Basal cell carcinoma
    • Mast cell tumor
    • Squamous cell carcinoma
    • Melanoma
  2. Pemphigus: An autoimmune condition that results in anti-bodies attacking healthy cell tissue. Some cats have a hereditary predisposition for this condition. Irritation results in your cats clawing and scratching a specific location which results in scabs.
  3. Ringworms are a fungal infection of skin, hair, or claws known as a dermatophyte. In most cases, fungal infections can clear up without treatment, but anti-fungal treatments offer faster results.

Note: this list is not comprehensive.


You’ll want to take your cat to the veterinarian AS SOON as you notice any lesions or scabs; otherwise they may become infected, especially if your cat keeps licking and scratching at them. These can be quite uncomfortable and downright painful for your cat so you want to make sure you help ease the pain as quickly as possible.

The good news is that most of the time, creams and oral medications work fast – usually within 24 hours. If I didn’t stress it enough yet, I’ll say it one more time – always get a proper diagnosis from your vet and don’t try to put any creams or lotions that you would use yourself. Most topical ointments that you find in your local drugstore can be harmful or even fatal for your cat.

When it comes to pet ownership there is no such thing as being over-cautious so don’t worry about calling your vet the minute you notice something out of the ordinary.

Other related content:

Why does my cat have diarrhea? Let’s talk about a few of the more common causes of diarrhea in cats.

Have you ever dealt with scabs on your cat? How did you deal with it and how did your cat recover? I’d love to hear your thoughts!



This Post Has 37 Comments

  1. Ali

    Advice on a green scaling on bottom of paws?

  2. Judy Harris

    The vet told me this was like teenage acne and would disappear, but my cat is 8 now and she still gets it. I don’t use plastic bowls, and she eats mainly fish, i.e., bonito, cod, shrimp temptations, 6 Fish crunchies and freeze dried treats. The vet recommended Duoxo, which is a medicated pad, like Stridex. Basically, it dries the wound, the scab falls out, leaving a bald spot, and then the hair regrows. But I would like to prevent these wounds, if at all possible, which occur on her chin and near the corners of her mouth.

  3. Melissa Sherriff

    Wash with F10 SHAMPOO, or get f10 cream, diluted apple cider vinigar with tumeric in distilled water works. Dont ever use tea tree oil this is toxic as well as other types of oils. Cortizone tablets can help.

  4. Andy Kizer

    My Siamese has scans all over, does anybody know if mineral oil is bad to put on cats skin at least it doesn’t really taste and his thin enough easy to spread on skin and coat? I would say it’s probably fleas biting her too. I will try different food as she was throwing up lately too. Mainly curious about the mineral oil? Andy

  5. SOZ

    BONNIE (15th April)
    sweetheart, try not to be so angry…I hope your cat is feeling better since your post, and I agree-vets are incredibly expensive. If you live in the UK, the PDSA animal charity is fantastic, although sometimes difficult to get through on the phone!

  6. SOZ

    try pure coconut oil on the affected area, totally safe for skin and fur, and won’t do any harm if your cat licks it.
    I give my cat Fizzy a cool-but not cold-quick shower(she has got quite used to it, after resistance at first),then dry her off and reassure her with cuddles and treats. Then, when she’s relaxed, gently massage the coconut oil into her skin where the scabs/itching seems to bother her the most: mainly her back and near the base of her tail. Our vet has prescribed tablets called prednisalone, which seems to help,but vet says to reduse dosage as much as possible, as its a steroid. That makes me concerned about side effects(NOT MASSIVE MUSCLES OR TEMPER TANTRUMS though, like men on steroids!!!)


  7. Minn

    Nemo is my cat and started getting scabs around her neck this past spring. There are no fleas where I live so I think it is probably an allergy. Vets and their meds have never been useful to me. I use home remedies. This time I combed all scabs off and put a topical on it (made out of cannabis, orange oil, and lavender). My cat cleared up in about 4 days, but it keeps coming back. Must be allergy so will continue with treatment and change his food, dishes, etc. Will also change the litter I am using.


    So is Vaseline good to put on it how about use motor oil I heard it’s good to

  9. Linda

    what is sudacreme where can I find it ?

  10. Cecilia

    I use a sock thats loose enough around my cats neck til her sores heal..but when the skin looks good and scabs are off..within one hour they are a bloody mess again! Why when everything looked healed? Should she wear the sock for months?

  11. Carolyn Zechiel

    This was the best site I found for information on cat dermatitis. Thank you.

    1. Annie

      Hello, Carolyn Zechiel. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Allie

    Thank you, this was so informative, to the point, and helpful. Amazing work!

  13. Rebecca Greene

    Thank you so much!! Coconut oil is good as well!! My kitty kitty is my baby.i could not live her anymore if had given birth to lol

  14. Rebecca

    My cat loves the outdoors, but because he’s an inside cat, I bought him a stroller and I push him around the neighborhood in his stroller. Tiger has been outside numerous times and has never had problems with rashes. Unfortunately my area was affected by the flood of 2019. After the flood happened, something changed within the air. I cannot bring Tiger to enjoy the outdoors in his stroller anymore. He breaks out with rashes 24 hours later around his face and scratches them because their itchy. Have you ever seen or heard of a cat later developing an allergic reaction to something that is airborne? How do I treat this so he can enjoy the outdoors again?

    1. Cheri

      Mold spores can grow after a flood and can be inside flooded homes or outside. They affect humans and animals and I would suspect your Tiger is allergic to one or more of the outside mold spores. I’ve recently heard about using colostrum for immune support for cats. That may be a good place to start as it helps to clear mold spores internally. He may not be able to go outside until the air clears up again or you may have to wait until the weather cools down. Either way, good luck in helping Tiger feel better.

  15. Bonnie


  16. Vanessa

    Ache o burn on my cat was treated by me with natural remedies bathing with calendulas herbal brown with hazel five star flower cream and sulphur 30c taken once a day orally

  17. Kay

    I noticed little scabs on the back of my Kitty’s nevk. I itvhed and scratched them off until her fur felt nice and scab free again. I did this several times but the little scabs came back again. I think it is from her itching or maybe her itching is what is causing the little scabs. Diet?

    1. Annie

      Hello, Key. Yes, try changing your pet’s diet and watch the changes.

  18. Deb

    Tea tree oil is highly TOXIC to cats – Google it. DO NOT PUT IT ON YOUR CAT OR DOG

  19. S.G

    Someone suggested rubbing some sudacreme cream over my cats scabs, so I bought some and tried it and I couldn’t believe how affective it was.
    My cat has been prescribed numerous prescriptions from the vets for skin problems over the last 2 years with no results and I had got to the stage where I was getting stressed because nothing seemed to work and my little girls skin wasn’t reacting to any treatment.
    I didn’t rub a lot of the sudacreme onto the affected area just a tiny bit, my cats skin is now clear of any scabs.

  20. Deborah Booth

    My cat Keefer developed scabs on just the right side of his face and neck, fur was matted & he was scratching all the time. Visits to vets just lead to expensive injections with no answer to a possible cause. He was becoming more uncomfortable as wasn’t healing..

    Google gave a suggestion to change his litter as may be too dusty (it was but he liked it !) & maybe causing allergies. 2 weeks in to using a non clumping paper based more hypoallergenic one has made a BIG difference. Skin starting to get better so fingers crossed this will solve it

  21. Lynn

    I take care of a lot of feral cats, and one tuxedo line seems to be especially prone to this problem. On one of the cats it was particularly alarming. I switched to a raw diet with a good fish oil and it cleared up quickly. BTW, I’ve read that hormones can cause this as well. Also, scabs can occur all over the back, head, neck etc.

  22. Lesa Lukowski

    My Baby Girl Sissy is about 6 yrs old and stays mostly inside ,,, but about a month ago she started getting scabs on her back toward her tail and all around her neck … she always wears a flea collar ,,, but I took it off of her when I noticed the scabs … She also has a brother named Smokey and he is just fine … but I have noticed she cant get enough water to drink and I have given her 2 baths with flea treatment just in case … what do ya think is the problem … do I need to make a vet appointment ???

    1. Annie

      Hello, Lisa Lukowski. I think better if you to contact the veterinary clinic.

  23. tom

    My cats get scabby from maybe fleas although I just went over a cat with a flea comb that is scabby on the neck and rearend and found no fleas in his case. As a home remedy that I have used before I have applied vaseline to the affected areas and rubbed it in which seems to assist healing pretty well. And if they lick any of it, it would also help with the hairballs they get from licking too much.

  24. lachme

    my cat meg developed acne on her chin. the vet advised me to stop using a plastic food bowl, as they tend to be a haven for bacteria, as opposed to glass, ceramic, or metal. i switched my kitties to all ceramic dishes, and meg never had another outbreak.

    1. Kaiser's Human

      When my cat got chin acne from plastic bowls, I changed to stainless steel and, like you, never another outbreak.

  25. ruth liagre

    Scabs all over my cat even in is ears does not itch the scabs are not from wounds Started getting them after a illness when he was one years old he is now for I can’t take him to the vets because he freaks out I would have to put him to sleep in order for him to leave the house have tried different foods different bedding treating the scabs nothing Seems to work None of the other cats are affected Any suggestions

  26. Melinda

    This information was very helpful and also helped me to not be panicked. My Cat is my daughter, My baby girl, so I don’t want her I’ll or uncomfortable. Thank you for your help and God Bless you.

  27. Kathryn

    I have been experimenting with natural solutions. I found a few drops of tea tree oil into vitamin E oil immediately clears my cat up. I bought a 1.5 ounce bottle of vitamin E at the dollar store. Put 5-8 drops of tea tree in it doing just a small area 1×1 inch first. Since cats clean by licking. Rub into skin well. Remove excess with paper towel. I have found it helps with hairballs though. See how your cat is with it. No adverse effects at all here.
    Good for my dog’s hot spots too. The smell keeps fleas away soothes the itching so the dog doesn’t chew. Gone the next day!

    1. Lori Lawrence

      I thought tea tree oil was poisonous to cats and dogs? I also am having trouble with my fur-baby Uno.. My son moved back in for a couple months and turned our otherwise quite drama free (somewhat) home into a place I didn’t even want to live in.. On top of that, we cleaned Unis room, his litter box had to be moved, and he (Uno) didn’t like that at all, all his stuff out of the room and my son moved in. Needless to say Uno went in there and squatted right only sons bed and did his marking lol it didn’t go over to well, but that was the start and ROBBIE would leave his door open and Uno would make a mad dash for the room and ROBBIE would yell at him, I had to get onto Robbie for yelling at poor Uno.. Anyways yes I’m sure my poor Uno is suffering from my son moving in, but he is out now and trying to get house back together.. I have been giving Uno Salmon oil and I comb him and I’ve been putting coconut oil on his dry skin, it’s helping but I just read about the “Burt’s Bees Dander Reducing Wipes ” so I’m going to get some of those Tomarrow and try them,.. Good luck and God Bless..

    2. Gerry

      This sounds wonderful to me. I have tea tree oil already, and may try it with coconut oil, which I also have. My kitty has long hair and and likes being combed (thankfully), but for the last few weeks I have found small patches of scabs about the size of a pencil eraser. I have never seen a flea or flea egg, and dont know what is causing the scabs, i just want them to heal up. I love him and don’t want him uncomfortable. Thank you so much.

    3. Brittney

      Tea tree oil is toxic to cats!!

      1. Donna

        You are right! it is very toxic to cats and can cause death. Please no tea tree oil on the cat. or where they can lick the oil.

  28. Addie

    This was actually so helpful. Made a cat mom panic less

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