Practical Matters: Control recurrent pyoderma by determining its cause

Feb 01, 2006

Karen Kuhl, DVM, DACVD
Recurrent pyodermas are a frustrating skin problem in veterinary patients. The key to treating them is to identify the underlying cause. But first you must discern whether the pyoderma is truly recurrent or is simply relapsing. For example, a pyoderma may be relapsing because of insufficient treatment time. As a rule, treat all superficial pyodermas for a minimum of three to four weeks and at least one week beyond clinical cure, and treat all deep pyodermas for a minimum of four to six weeks and at least two weeks beyond clinical cure. Other possible causes of relapsing pyoderma are administration of an antibiotic that is inappropriate for the condition, an inadequate dosage of an antibiotic, or owner noncompliance. If an infection is relapsing or recurrent, a bacterial culture and sensitivity should be performed at a reputable microbiology laboratory. In my office, my colleagues and I always ask for any Staphylococcus species organisms to be fully identified (i.e. genus and species, not just coagulase positive or negative).

If the infection resolves completely yet recurs a few weeks to months later, investigate the underlying causes. Many factors can predispose patients to recurrent pyodermas, including allergies, ectoparasites, endocrinopathies, keratinization disorders, immunodeficiencies, immunosuppressive disorders, or concurrent corticosteroid use. A thorough clinical history, including whether the patient exhibits pruritus when the lesions are healed, is beneficial. To control recurrent pyoderma, the cause must be elucidated.

Karen Kuhl, DVM, DACVD
Midwest Veterinary Dermatology Center
1515 Busch Parkway
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089