Initiated by the ultraviolet rays of the sun, solar dermatitis can occur in cats with insufficient skin pigmentation to block the harmful effects of sunlight.
Cats with white hair coats (or those with white ears and/or white faces) that live in hot, sunny climates are most prone to this dermatopathy.
In cats, lesions usually begin at the tips and margins of the ears, yet they can also appear on the eyelids, nose, and/or lips. Hair loss, scabs, and ulcerations characterize these lesions. If left unattended, the affected skin can eventually become cancerous, and metastasize to other parts of the body.
Diagnosis of solar dermatitis is confirmed through surgically obtaining a biopsy sample of the affected areas. Treatment is geared toward reducing exposure to the sun’s rays via indoor confinement and through the use of commercial sunscreen products.
Corticosteroids applied topically can also help reduce any associated inflammation. For those lesions suspect of becoming cancerous, surgical removal (if possible) and/or radiation therapy is needed to prevent its spread.