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Miliary Eczema

*90% of cats with crusts felt over their back and around their neck will be suffering from an allergy to fleas.

*Just one flea is needed to set it off if a cat is allergic to the saliva of the flea, so you may not even see the flea or evidence of any flea dirt. We call these crusty scabs miliary eczema as they feel like millet seeds.

*It is actually the cat that causes its own dermatitis as they are itchy and they tend to overgroom. This unbalances the sensitive bacterial balance on the skin resulting in a secondary skin infection.

If you have felt the roughness of a cat’s spiky tongue, you will also realise the mechanical damage it does with overgrooming.

*They may also appear quite bald over their backs and suffer from more furballs.

*Other less common causes of skin allergies include food, dust mite and inhaled pollen to name a few.

*Some cats may convert this overgrooming into a behavioural problem.

There is apparently an endorphin release with grooming and if your cat is of a nervous nature or there is something that is really stressing it (a new cat in the neighbourhood, building work etc), they may become addicted to this endorphin release and a vicious cycle ensues.


As fleas are responsible for the vast majority of cases, ensuring good flea control is the first concern. The will mean using a flea preparation that is only available from a vet.

Anti-inflammatory drugs may also be used. In most cases it is best for only a short course to allow the skin to settle and heal while the primary cause is addressed separately.

If the cause cannot be controlled, particularly if the problem is something like house dust mite which cannot be avoided, the long term use of anti-inflammatory steroids may have to be considered.

The best way to use steroids is with short acting tablets, so that the treatment can be stopped should a problem arise.

Ovarid is effective in treatment, but should only be considered as a last resort. It has unwanted side effects with long term use including obesity, diabetes and mammary tumours.