species: click on a picture:
Hot Spot (moist
dermatitis) Introduction A
hot spot is a localized area of skin inflammation and
infection. The infection can be superficial or deep. Other
common names for this condition include: moist
dermatitis, Summer Sores and acute moist
These common skin lesions are usually caused (and made
worse) by biting, licking, or scratching. Broken down,
“pyo-” refers to “pus”, “-traumatic” refers to
self-inflicted trauma of biting, licking, scratching, and
so on, and “dermatitis” means inflammation of the skin.
Hotspots start out as small breaks in the upper dermal
layers. A tiny scratch, an insect bite, gnawing at an itchy
spot or even rough play between two sharp toothed puppies
can spell the prelude to the next step in the formation of
a hotspot. Many times chronic dog hot spots stem from an
allergic condition.Any area in the skin that is open, acts
like a neon sign, inviting bacteria to set up house and
multiply like the demons they are.
Hot spots are most common in dogs with thick coats such as
Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels and German Shepherds.
However, hot spots can occur in any breed.
oozing, pain, and itchiness are hallmark signs.
Hair loss is commonly present. Sometimes hair can mat over
the lesion, obscuring the size and degree of the problem.
These lesions can appear suddenly, and grow rapidly. It is
common for an owner to notice a small area of inflamed skin
in the morning (perhaps an inch or couple centimeters in
diameter) and come home from work to be met with a large
area the size of the palm of a hand. The dog is usually
highly agitated, and will not leave the area alone. Some
dogs will even growl or snap if the area is touched.
usually an inciting factor to initiate the extreme licking
and scratching behavior. Look for fleas, mites, or other
external parasites, an insect sting or bite, allergies
(food, inhalant, contact), or injury (skin wound, scrape,
etc.). Some animals have been known to “start” a hot spot
out of boredom or stress-related psychological problems.
the rapidity of spread and possibility of deeper skin
infection, it is wise to start treatment with your vet.
Also, these hot spots can be very painful to the animal —
caution is advised, use a muzzle if need be for your
1. Shave the area. The
first treatment for hot spots is to dry them out and get
air to the area. Hair loss is a feature of hot spots, but
hair can also mat over the inflamed area, covering up a
potentially much more severe and large problem.
2. Cleanse the area
with cool water and a gentle skin cleanser.
3. Cool compress the
area 2-4 times a day with a cool wet washcloth.
4. Medications –
Depending on the severity and size of the hot spot, your
veterinarian may prescribe oral antibiotics, topical drying
sprays or medications, and/or special shampoos.
5. Prevention of licking,
biting, scratching (i.e. Elizabethan collar).
6. Additional home
remedies that can be used until you can see your
• Tea bag compresses (black or green tea) to help dry the
area out. Tea can be used as a wash or as a compress.
• Hydrocortisone creams.