"Exfoliative" refers to the detachment and shedding of surface skin cells



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Exfoliative Dermatoses

(Skin Disorders Characterized



by the Presence of Scales)

Basics

OVERVIEW

  • Excessive or abnormal shedding of skin cells, resulting in the clinical presentation of accumulations of surface skin cells, such as seen in dandruff (known as “scales”)

  • “Exfoliative” refers to the detachment and shedding of surface skin cells; “dermatosis” (plural, “dermatoses”) is the medical term for any skin abnormality or disorder

  • “Primary” refers to a condition that occurs first in the skin; “secondary” refers to changes that occur following the primary disease—for example, the skin may be inflamed due to a nutritional deficiency (primary condition) and become infected by bacteria invading the inflamed skin (secondary condition) or the skin changes are secondary to the presence of some other problem or abnormality (such as the presence of parasites on the skin)

Signalment/Description of Pet

Species

  • Dogs

  • Cats

Breed Predilections

  • Primary exfoliative dermatoses—cocker spaniels, English springer spaniels, West Highland white terriers, basset hounds, Doberman pinschers, Irish setters, Labrador retrievers, Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, dachshunds, chow chows, Yorkshire terriers, poodles, Great Danes, whippets, salukis, Italian greyhounds, standard poodles, Samoyeds, Akitas, vizslas, golden retrievers

  • Primary seborrhea (excessively oily or dry scaling of the skin)—Persian kittens

  • Secondary exfoliative dermatoses—any breed of dog or cat

Mean Age and Range

  • Primary exfoliative dermatoses—apparent by 2 years of age

  • Primary seborrhea (excessively oily or dry scaling of the skin)—newborn Persian kittens

  • Secondary exfoliative dermatoses—any age

Signs/Observed Changes in the Pet

  • Excessive scaling

  • Smelly or malodorous skin; “rancid fat” odor is common

  • Itchiness (known as “pruritus”)

  • Oily skin and hair

  • Dry or greasy accumulations of surface skin cells, as seen in dandruff (scales); accumulations may be fine or coarse; may be located throughout the hair coat or in localized areas

  • Hair follicles may become filled with oil and skin cells (known as “comedones”)

  • Accumulation of debris that adheres to hair shaft (known as “follicular casts”)

  • “Candle wax”–like deposits on hair

  • Hair loss (known as “alopecia”)

  • Secondary skin inflammation, caused by the yeast Malassezia (known as “secondary Malassezia dermatitis”)

Causes and Risk Factors

Primary Exfoliative Dermatoses

  • Primary excessively dry or oily scaling of the skin (known as “seborrhea”) of unknown causes (so-called “idiopathic seborrhea”) that is a primary disorder in the normal replacement and shedding of skin cells (known as a “keratinization disorder”)—breeds at highest risk: cocker spaniels, English springer spaniels, West Highland white terriers, basset hounds, Doberman pinschers, Irish setters, and Labrador retrievers; dry (known as “seborrhea sicca”) and greasy or oily (known as “seborrhea oleosa”) forms exist, but determination of type has little prognostic value

  • Skin disorder that responds to treatment with vitamin A (known as “vitamin A–responsive dermatosis”)—nutritionally responsive; seen primarily in young cocker spaniels; clinical signs similar to severe idiopathic seborrhea; distinguished by response to dietary vitamin A supplementation

  • Skin disorder that responds to treatment with zinc (known as “zinc-responsive dermatosis”)—nutritionally responsive; results in hair loss (alopecia); accumulations of surface skin cells, as seen in dandruff (scales); dried discharge on the surface of the skin lesion (known as a “crust”); and reddening of the skin (known as “erythema”) around the eyes, ears, feet, lips, and other external orifices; two syndromes are seen: (1) young adult dogs, especially Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes, and (2) rapidly growing, large-breed puppies

  • Abnormalities in the development of the skin and related structures (such as hair follicles)—abnormal development of the hair follicles or hair (known as “follicular dysplasia”); seen as hair loss (alopecia) in color mutant or dilution pets; represent abnormalities in deposition of melanin pigments (responsible for the color of the skin and hair) of the hair shaft and structural hair growth; breeds commonly affected: blue and fawn Doberman pinschers, Irish setters, dachshunds, chow chows, Yorkshire terriers, poodles, Great Danes, whippets, salukis, and Italian greyhounds; signs include failure to regrow blue or fawn hair with normal “point” hair growth, excessive accumulations of surface skin cells, as seen in dandruff (scales), hair follicles filled with oil and skin cells (comedones), and skin infection characterized by the presence of pus (secondary pyoderma)

  • Thickening of the skin (known as “hyperkeratosis”) of the nose and pads of the feet of unknown cause (so-called “idiopathic nasodigital hyperkeratosis”)—excessive accumulation of surface skin cells (scales) and dried discharge on the surface of the skin lesion (crusts) on the tough, hairless skin of the nose (known as the “nasal planum”) and footpad margins; possibly an aging change, seen in spaniels and Labrador retrievers; may result in cracking and secondary bacterial infection that can be quite painful

  • Inflammation of the sebaceous glands, the glands that produce oils in the hair coat (condition known as “sebaceous adenitis”)—inflammatory disease; may be of unknown cause (so-called “idiopathic sebaceous adenitis”); three specific syndromes seen: (1) middle-aged standard poodles and Samoyeds—characteristic patchy or widespread (diffuse) hair loss (alopecia) and excessive accumulation of surface skin cells, as seen in dandruff (scales); accumulation of debris that adheres to hair shaft (follicular casts); most dogs are healthy; (2) Akitas—frequently develop severe and deep bacterial skin infection characterized by the presence of pus (pyoderma); (3) vizslas—disease appears distinctly different and is characterized by the presence of nodular, inflammatory lesions (known as “granulomas”); other breeds can be affected but are less likely than the breeds indicated previously

  • Abnormal development of the top surface of the skin (known as the “epidermis”; condition known as “epidermal dysplasia”) and congenital (present at birth) disorders of the normal replacement and shedding of skin cells (keratinization disorder; condition known as “ichthyosis”)—rare and severe congenital disorder of keratinization; reported in West Highland white terriers and golden retrievers; generalized accumulations of surface skin cells, as seen in dandruff (scales) and dried discharge on the surfaces of the skin lesions (crusts) at an early age; secondary bacterial and yeast infections are common

  • Primary excessively oily scaling of the skin (primary seborrhea)—newborn Persian kittens

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