Hot spots are areas of inflamed skin that develop very rapidly. They are common on the face, trunk, and limbs of dogs.
Many hot spots develop as a result of skin irritation that leads to licking or scratching. The mild self trauma that occurs when a dog works on an itchy site can cause the area to itch more. This leads to a cycle of further scratching and licking. The affected area of skin may be moist and red. Hair loss may occur.
Hot spots develop most often in long haired breeds such as Golden Retrievers and Chow Chows. However, they can occur in any type of dog. True hot spots are rare in cats.
Hot spots are painful and should be treated. Mild hot spots can be treated effectively with topical medications containing antibiotics and cortisone. Larger hot spots generally require veterinary intervention. Very severe hot spots can be life threatening.
Fleas are the leading cause of skin irritation that leads to hot spots. Allergies to food, pollen, detergents or other environmental agents also may contribute to the problem.
Ringworm, mange, a syndrome called acral lick dermatitis and several other conditions may cause skin lesions that look like hot spots. A vet checkup is a good idea for any pet suffering from skin problems.