Successful treatment of skin disorders requires identification of the underlying cause. Not surprisingly, many treatments for skin diseases are applied directly to the skin surface. Even though topical treatments may not cure the condition, they are often beneficial in improving the cosmetic appearance or odor of the animal, pending the final diagnosis. Topical skin medications may be the preferred method of treatment for some diseases or beneficial in addition to systemic drugs (medications usually given by mouth or injection and distributed throughout the body). Examples of products applied directly to the skin include antibiotic ointments, corticosteroid preparations, medicated shampoos, and topical insecticides.
Systemic drugs may be needed to treat some disorders. These include whole-body antibiotics and corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs.
As with any treatment program, make sure that you read and understand all directions for using the prescribed product, including how to apply or give it, how much to use, and how often it should be administered.
Last full review/revision July 2011 by Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD; Carol S. Foil, DVM, MS, DACVD; John E. Lloyd, BS, PhD; Bertrand J. Losson, DVM, PhD, DEVPC; Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD; Patricia A. Talcott, MS, DVM, PhD, DABVT; Alice Villalobos, DVM, DPNAP; Patricia D. White, DVM, MS, DACVD; Thomas R. Klei, PhD; David Stiller, MS, PhD; Stephen D. White, DVM, DACVD