There are two forms of seborrhea: oily (oleosa) and dry (sicca). It is not uncommon to have combination skin, just like people! A change in the amount and quality of the oily skin secretions (sebum) causes this condition. Excessive skin peeling and the flakes on your cat's coat are caused by an imbalance between new and dying skin cells.
Dandruff can also be observed in cats with no dermatological disease, and it is usually due to a lack of grooming. This can be caused by:
- Obesity - some cats can't physically reach certain areas to groom properly
- The hair coat is too long to groom completely
- General sickness with depression or endocrine disorders
- Spinal pain that prevents your cat from turning or twisting
Other common causes include fungal infections (such as ringworm or Malassezia dermatitis), parasitic skin disease (cheyletiellosis, demodecosis) and lymphoma of the skin.
Oily skin can be waxy and greasy. Often, cats have a bad odor due to this excessive sebum.
With dry seborrhea, a lack of sebum irritates the skin and dandruff is more frequent. Skin hyperpigmentation and hair loss are also common.
Damage to the natural protective skin barrier can contribute to bacterial or yeast skin infections.
Your cat's skin may also be itchy, leading to excessive scratching or licking.
If you notice any of these signs, a trip to the veterinarian is warranted as this is not just a hygiene issue!
Your veterinarian will first look for the underlying cause of the problem and may need to perform diagnostic tests. In addition to treating the primary disease, topical therapy may also help repair the damaged skin barriers.