A “hot spot” (also known as pyotraumatic or moist dermatitis) is a skin condition that occurs when an animal constantly bites, licks, or scratches an area of itchy skin. The skin becomes inflamed and infected and often appears as a moist, oozing, reddened area that is painful and very itchy. If there is hair in the area, the hair will hold in moisture and irritate the skin more. The condition worsens if the animal continues to bother the area and it is common to notice a small affected area in the morning and a larger one in the evening. Because the lesions are warm to the touch, they are called hot spots.
Hot spots are treatable but it is important to also identify the underlying cause to ensure the prevention of future hot spots. A visit to your veterinarian may be required depending on the severity of the lesion. Any hair in or around the lesion will be trimmed and removed so the area can be thoroughly cleaned and topical medications can be applied. Your veterinarian will prescribe oral antibiotics for about three to four weeks to treat the infection and may also prescribe corticosteroids (such as prednisone) to help with the itching and pain from the inflammation.
One of the ways you can prevent hot spots is by removing exposure to allergens. Animals can have environmental allergies, such as grass, trees, or dust mites, or they can also be allergic to food. Avoiding fleas, mites, insect bites, and skin wounds, in general, will also help prevent your pet from developing hot spots. You can use an Elizabethan collar, or “e-collar,” to keep your pet from agitating the spot further.