Excessive exposure to the sun can cause a skin condition called Solar Dermatitis. This is primarily a problem in breeds with sparse fur like the Sphynx. Skin areas that are lightly pigmented and cats with white skin are also at risk. The ear flaps are the most common site affected. Occasionally the tip of the nose and eyelids are also involved.
Solar Dermatitis that is very severe and/or not responsive to therapy requires a biopsy to determine whether or not a Squamous Cell Carcinoma has developed. A tiny piece of ear tissue is removed under anesthesia and examined microscopically to confirm the diagnosis. Surgical removal of the cancerous tissue is the best treatment for this type of cancer. The entire ear flap must be removed in extreme cases. The prognosis is quite good. This tumor may return on the ear but rarely spreads to other body parts.
* Witch Hazel is cooling and soothing to sunburn skin. Blot with cotton ball four times daily.
* Aloe Vera may be used directly from the plant leaf (gel form is available in health food stores) and dabbed on the sore skin. This helps moisturize dry sunburned skin.
* Skin on the ear tips and /or tip of the nose turns pink in color.
* Hair loss is common
* Both ear tips become scaly and crusted. With continued sun exposure the red raw ear tips ulcerate.
* Cats shake their heads and may rub their ears raw. Ear tips can bleed.
* Without treatment Solar Dermatitis can develop into an aggressive type of skin cancer called a Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
* Avoid excess exposure to sunlight
* Keep cats indoor from 10 am to 3 pm when the sun is hottest
* Sunblock preparations can be toxic because cats usually lick them off.