Dog Acne: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

Most dogs with acne recover with proper treatment but do require management, which may include preventing recurring trauma, using topical medications during flare ups, and long-term allergy management if necessary. Some severe cases can result in scarring and can be prone to lesion recurrence.

Red spots on the skin are commonly just pimples ( acne vulgaris ), or inflamed red spots on the face, chest, and upper back. The pimples form when pores become blocked by oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

It mostly affects the skin and joints, but it also may affect the fingernails, the toenails, the soft tissues of the genitals and the inside of the mouth. The most common variety of this condition is plaque psoriasis, and it produces lesions on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back that can be itchy and painful after they bleed and crack.

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Dog Acne

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There are people with acne who also have allergic contact dermatitis, a condition that keeps the skin in a state of constant irritation. Skin cells die and are shed. Some of these skin cells find their way inside pores where they can clump and clog the pore so that acne results. Because the skin is already irritated, these blemishes quickly progress into tiny red pimples, the redness caused by allergic inflammation as well as bacterial infection. These spots on the skin would be red even if there were no acne bacteria, but bacteria can add to the problem.

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In general, red flag symptoms along with red spots on your skin include:

In rare cases, a biopsy may be performed to check deep disease, unusual lesions, or cases not responding to therapy.

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Red spots on the skin can also be a reaction to or a sensitivity to an allergen. One example is a drug rash, which occurs when your body has an allergic reaction to a medication. It can also be caused by a drug hypersensitivity or be a side effect of a medication (photosensitive reactions). Drug rashes can appear as hives, rashes, or blisters.

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Cherry Angiomas

Cherry angiomas are common in adults aged 30 and older. They often show up on the torso, but they can also develop on the arms, legs, and scalp. Sometimes, the growths change in size and may bleed, but this does not mean there is a problem.

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6 skin conditions that look like acne but aren’t

Allergic Reaction Rash

Drug rashes can range from mild to severe. Some cases may even require emergency care. A drug rash can affect the whole body or just one part. It tends to be spread out (diffuse) over the skin.

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Contact Dermatitis

Obencem / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Skin allergies to external irritants can also cause spots, but are not actually acne. Allergic reactions to things such as foods, medications and skin products can produce a pimple-like rash that can easily be confused for acne. The most telling sign that what you are experiencing is not acne, but rather allergies, is severe itching that usually accompanies red scaly patches.

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6 Skin Conditions that Look Like Acne But Isn't Acne

Red spots on the skin have a variety of possible causes. For example, contact with something irritating can cause dermatitis, a fungal infection is responsible for ringworm, burst blood vessels cause spots known as purpura, and some autoimmune conditions can cause rashes.

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Ingrown hairs

If you try to pop a pimple on your dog, it can bleed and cause an infection in the surrounding area. The infection could spread to other parts of their body, even if you clean the area well afterward.

By Cristina Mutchler
Cristina Mutchler is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in national media, specializing in health and wellness content.

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Topical steroids and oral antihistamines can treat the symptoms, and antibiotics might be needed if the infection doesn’t get better.

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Dog Acne: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

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If your vet finds that your dog has an underlying allergy, they may suggest diet therapy, supplements, and allergy medications (prescription or over-the-counter).

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Treatment of Dog Acne

Mild acne can often be treated at home with over-the-counter (OTC) acne products. A more severe form of acne, called cystic acne, may require treatment by a dermatologist.

Ingrown hairs are hairs that have curled around and grown back into your skin instead of rising up from it. They are easily mistaken for common acne because they form like a pimple and can have pus inside of them, but unlike acne, they are itchy and tend to go away without any treatment (unless it becomes infected).

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