Hot Spots (Pyotraumatic Dermatitis/Acute Moist Dermatitis)

Pyotraumatic dermatitis is an acute, rapidly developing surface bacterial skin infection that occurs as a result of self-inflicted trauma. These lesions are created when the animal licks, chews, scratches and rubs a focal area of skin in response to an itchy (pruritic), painful stimulus. Because the lesions are warm to the touch, they are often called “hot spots.” It is usually a seasonal problem that becomes more common when the weather is hot and humid, and fleas are the most common irritating stimulus. Hot spots are common in dogs, especially in thick-coated, long-haired breeds. They are rarely seen in cats.


  • The lesions appear as hot, red and moist areas. They occur most frequently on the trunk, tail base, lateral thigh, neck and face.
  • Some hair loss over the area happens as lesion progresses.
  • Intense itching (pruritus), quickly makes the issue worse and more painful.


  • The underlying cause should be identified and removed for successful treatment.
  • Carefully clip the hair from the lesions back to the “normal” edges of the lesion. If lesions are large, sedation can be helpful.
  • The lesion will be sore, so gentle cleansing with VET BASICS® ChlorConazole Shampoo or Ketochlor Shampoo is important.
  • Applying a topical medicated spray to remove itch is essential to resolving hot spots. Pramoxine Anti Itch Spray to lesions twice daily eliminates scratching and treats the lesion. Use VET BASICS® ChlorConazole Wipes for skin folds or hard-to-spray areas of face.
  • Avoid medications that will dry or sting. Stinging draws attention to the site and increases self-trauma from licking or rubbing. Alcohol-containing products should be avoided.


  • The outcome is much better if the underlying cause can be corrected or controlled. If fleas are the issue, try using a monthly topical (Frontline or Advantage) to remove them.
  • Lesions may be slow to heal, but gentle cleansing of the area on a daily basis will soothe the area and speed recovery.
  • Owners should wash their hands after treating an infected animal. Although human infections are rare, the microorganism could present a danger to owners who are immunosuppressed.
  • If self trauma is an issue, you can use a collar such as the Ejay Bite Free Collar to prevent further damage from licking.
  • Keeping long coats well groomed also helps prevent hot spots.

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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