Eczema

Natural Eczema remedies for dry, itchy, inflamed skin with crusty lesions/bumps on cats and dogs.

natural remedies for eczema and atopic dermatitis in cats and dogs

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  1. What is Eczema?
  2. What Causes Eczema?
  3. Diagnosing Eczema
  4. Help for Eczema
  5. More Information on Eczema

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition that refers to inflammation of the skin. It is also known as dermatitis and is characterized by itching and dry, scaly red patches. Not only does eczema cause tremendous discomfort for an animal and it can also often result in unexpected flare-ups triggered by allergic reactions, fleas or environmental factors. This condition affects both cats and dogs of all breeds and is most common in animals with sensitive skin.

With most types of eczema the following symptoms may be noted with regards to your pet:

  • Itching that may range from moderate to severe in certain areas
  • Lesions on areas of skin that become sparsely haired (back of the paws, abdomen, muzzle, and lips).
  • Inflamed areas that may bleed when scratched or ooze watery fluids
  • Blistering
  • Cracked, painful skin
  • Persistent scratching of a particular area
  • Persistent licking of a particular area
  • The appearance of a red, painful-looking sores, often overnight.
  • Scaly, rough or oozing areas on the skin, usually accompanied by hair loss.

Related conditions include:

  • Flea-bite Dermatitis (Caused by flea saliva residue on your pet’s skin)
  • Allergic contact dermatitis (your pet’s delayed hypersensitivity to allergens such as bleach, fertilizers, carpet cleaners and flea collars)
  • Atopic dermatitis (an allergic-type reaction that is accompanied by wheezing, asthma, and very dry skin).
  • Seborrheic dermatitis (yellow, greasy scales like dandruff on the skin of certain breeds – especially those with wrinkles or folds).
  • Autosensitization dermatitis (itchy rash that occurs in response to an intense inflammatory process somewhere else on the body, especially fungal infections).
  • Lichen simplex chronicus (rash caused by long-term scratching of an area producing thickened skin).
  • Pyotraumatic dermatitis (Often referred to as a "hot spot" - red, moist, hairless, painful-looking sore that appears suddenly. Often, this licking and scratching goes on at night, so the sudden appearance of the sore can be an unpleasant surprise)
  • Canine acral lick dermatitis (a fairly common skin condition in dogs. Affected dogs usually spend a considerable part of their day licking at one particular spot on one leg. An infected, wound eventually arises at the site).
  • Canine sarcoptic mange (an extremely irritating condition caused by the Sarcoptes mite most often affecting a dog's abdomen, chest, legs, and ears)
  • Feline notoedric mange (similar to canine sarcoptic mange, Notoedres cati is a microscopic mite that infests the skin of cats typically affecting the ears, face, and neck).

What causes Eczema?

The exact cause of eczema is not known. Researchers believe that hereditary factors as well as a malfunction within the immune system may contribute to the cause of eczema. Certain factors or triggers may also be responsible for the outbreaks of eczema and these include:

  • Irritants or substances such as household cleaners or detergents and chemicals
  • Allergens such as plant pollens and any number of pollutants
  • Sensitivity to certain foods (particularly dairy) as well as chemical food additives, preservatives and colorings
  • Changes in temperature or humidity
  • Stress
  • Hot weather and an animal’s perspiration (especially if they have folds in the skin that trap fungus or bacteria)
  • Flea Saliva
  • Fungal infections

Diagnosing Eczema

Generally, eczema is diagnosed based on the history and appearance of the rash. Your vet will inspect the affected area and if possible, the exact type of eczema or skin condition is identified, although this can be difficult. Some skin tests can be performed to help identify the problem. If allergic eczema is suspected a 'patch' test can also be performed where a small amount of the allergen is rubbed onto your pet’s skin and the skin is monitored for 2-5 days for a reaction.

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Help for Eczema

Although, there is no cure for eczema a combination of conventional medications, natural therapies and modifying your lifestyle can help.

If your pet’s eczema results from flea bites, action should be taken to rid the home of fleas. Corticosteroids such as injectable dexamethasone and oral antibiotics may be given to calm the itching and inflammation – however these medications may have side effects. ‘Hot spots’ need prompt attention to prevent bacterial infection.

Be aware that topical steroids can have significant side effects and most topical steroid creams need to be prescribed by a health care provider.

Natural remedies

Many herbal and homeopathic remedies have been formulated with specific ingredients to help lessen inflammation and soothe itchy, ‘angry and agitated’ skin. Herbs such as Matricaria recutita (German Chamomile) is widely used as a gentle cleansing, anti-inflammatory and soothing herb.

Galium aperine (Cleavers) is a cleansing tonic helping to expel toxins from the body and therefore assist in the treatment of chronic skin conditions such as eczema and allergic dermatitis. Calendula officinalis (Marigold), Hamamelis virginianum (Witch hazel) and Graphites can reduce swelling and are well-regarded as effective natural remedies to soothe itchiness while promoting skin health and skin support.

More Information on Eczema

Tips for Eczema-prone skin
  • Control your pet’s fleas regularly! This is key in the battle against dermatitis.
  • If you bath your pets – do not bath them too often. Make sure you use a natural, gentle shampoo – and always dry them off properly.
  • Never use human perfumes, moisturizers or talc on your pet’s skin.
    Treat other rashes, especially fungal infections, even though they may not seem related and watch out for infection.
  • Avoid dressing your pet in clothing: the skin needs to ‘breathe’ and in the case of dermatitis related to allergies or triggers, some detergents may be at fault for your pet’s irritated skin.
  • Keep your pet’s nails short to avoid scratching or rubbing the itchy area

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