Q: There’s a black scab on my cat’s nose. It is really dry and nasty looking. There are also black specks on his chin. It’s getting really bad. What should I do?
A: The black specks on the chin sound like “comedones,” the technical name for blackheads. The most common cause of this is “feline acne” (also referred to as “chin acne”). Feline acne is a skin condition in which some of the hair follicles on the chin become infected (folliculitis).
Cats that are messy eaters — those that always seem to have a little food on their chin or don’t clean their face well after eating and drinking — are more prone to chin acne. Some cases have been linked to a hypersensitivity to plastic food bowls, and the acne often clears up if the cat is switched to a glass, porcelain or stainless steel food dish.
Most cases are mild and require no treatment. More substantial cases might require a topical ointment containing benzoyl peroxide. In severe cases, the infected follicles can become swollen and painful and can bleed once they rupture. In these cases, antibiotics are warranted in addition to topical ointments.
As for the black scab on your cat’s nose, without seeing it, I’m reluctant to speculate on what it might be. You should have the nose (and chin) evaluated by your veterinarian.