Skin Fold Pyoderma in Dogs

By Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Ernest Ward, DVM

Medical Conditions, Pet Services

What is skin fold pyoderma?

pug_skin_foldPyoderma is the medical term for a bacterial skin infection. Pyoderma is commonly associated with acute moist dermatitis or hot spots (see handouts “Hot Spots in Dogs” and “First Aid for Hot Spots in Dogs” for more information).

Skin fold pyoderma is an inflammatory skin disorder that develops in skin folds, such as facial folds, lip folds, and in the groin or armpits. It may develop between the mammary glands in females that have had multiple litters of pups. It may also occur secondary to obesity, when adjacent skin folds upon itself. The skin folds allow the surface of the two adjacent areas to lie in close contact, creating a warm, humid environment. In the presence of moisture, the normal skin bacteria then multiply, creating an infection in the fold.

Certain breeds appear to be predisposed to the condition. These include:

  • Spaniels with lip fold pyoderma
  • Pekingese, Pugs, Boxer Dogs, and Bulldogs with facial fold pyoderma affecting the wrinkles on the face and nose
  • Shar Pei and other breeds with loose skin and skin folds.

What are the signs of skin fold pyoderma?

Signs of skin fold infection include moistness, discharge, redness, and a foul or musty odor.

How is skin fold pyoderma treated?

Mild cases of skin fold pyoderma respond well to medical treatment. The area has to be cleansed with a medicated skin cleanser (such as chlorhexidine, miconazole, or sulfur/salicylic acid) and sometimes the hair must be clipped. If the hair is clipped, care has to be taken that 'stubble' does not cause damage to the opposing skin surfaces. Antibiotics (such as amoxicillin, cephalexin, polymyxin), frequently combined with steroids (typically prednisone, dexamethasone, or methylprednisolone), are administered topically, orally or by injection.

"The affected areas must be kept clean and dry."

The affected areas must be kept clean and dry. It is important to monitor the area for any signs of recurrence. Chronic cases or cases that do not respond well to medical treatment may require surgical removal of the skin folds. This frequently has to be carried out on affected Shar Peis, Spaniels and flat faced breeds such as Pugs and Boxer Dogs.

Does the condition recur?

Recurrence is likely following medical treatment in affected dogs. Proper home care and hygiene are your best defenses against future problems.

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