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.

Clinical Signs:

  • 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.

Treatment and Outcome:

  • 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.

- Dr. B

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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