of the condition, with applications 1-3 times weekly being common.
The yeast Malassezia pachydermatis
commonly lives on the skin
Selenium sulfide 1% ( Selsun Blue
) is recommended if the skin
of dogs but may grow excessively and cause a skin infection.
is greasy, waxy, and scaly, but it is irritating to some animals
Breeds that are predisposed to the condition, possibly because
they have significantly more yeast on their skin, include the basset
• Certain shampoos kill or reduce the number of yeast on the
hound, West Highland white terrier, dachshund, American cocker
skin, including ketoconazole ( Nizoral, KetoChlor
), 3-4% chlor-
spaniel, English springer spaniel, and German shepherd dog.
hexidine shampoo, 2% chlorhexidine with 1% miconazole
), and 1% miconazole ( Miconazole, Resizole
Certain conditions encourage the overgrowth of this yeast in
• Rinses composed of vinegar and water (1:5 or 1:10 dilution)
are inexpensive and effective long-term treatments that help
Seborrhea and disorders that cause dandruff
prevent relapses in some dogs (such as swimmers).
Hormonal diseases such as hypothyroidism and canine
• Lime sulfur dips (2%) can be used to relieve the itching and
have mild antiyeast properties. Lime sulfur can be very dry-
ing to the skin and hair coat and temporarily stains light-col-
dermatitis in cats is usually associated
ored coats. It also has a fairly strong sulfur odor when applied,
with some sort of underlying (systemic) disease, such as metabolic
which remains (to a degree) once the pet is dry.
diseases or cancer, but may also occur in cats with allergies.
Systemic therapy involves giving antifungal medications orally, usually for 4 weeks:
• Ketoconazole is helpful in dogs but can cause nausea, vomit-
Itchiness is a major and consistent sign. Face-rubbing, head-shak-
ing, decreased appetite, and liver problems. It is avoided in cats
ing, foot-licking and chewing, and scooting may occur in dogs.
because it causes vomiting and loss of appetite.
The affected areas may be localized (ears, around the anus, muz-
• Itraconazole is effective but often more expensive.
zle, around the eyes, feet) or generalized.
• Fluconazole can be used when concerns exist about liver tox-
Cats may have waxy ears, chin acne, dark debris on their claws,
icity. It can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort,
and/or generalized dandruff. Common skin changes include red-
decreased appetite, and liver problems, however.
ness, thickening, increased pigmentation (darkening), dandruff,
• Terbinafine may be considered but has the same potential side
and greasiness. Hair loss is common in both dogs and cats. A
strong, rancid odor may be detected on the skin, particularly in
Often topical therapy helps speed the resolution of Malassezia
dermatitis and is used in conjunction with systemic therapy. The underlying disease or allergy must also be managed to prevent or
Material is collected from the pet’s skin, ears, and/or claws with a cotton swab, special tape, or scalpel blade and then applied to a
glass slide. The material is treated with a special stain that allows
Clinical signs can take 3-4 weeks to improve. Recheck visits and
the yeast to be seen under the microscope. This is the easiest way
re-examination of skin samples are important to assess the amount
to make the diagnosis. Occasionally, skin biopsies are helpful.
of yeast present prior to finishing or stopping the therapy. Prognosis
TREATMENT AND FOLLOW-UP
The chances of clearing the yeast infection are good, but man-aging the underlying causative condition requires adequate treat-
ment as well. Some animals need long-term topical therapy a few
Topical therapy involves the application of substances directly to
times a month and/or intermittent systemic therapy to keep the
the pet. Frequency of application varies depending on the severity
IF SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS HAVE BEEN ADDED, THEY WILL APPEAR ON THE LAST PAGE OF THE PRINTOUT.
Copyright 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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