The Classic Comprehensive Handbook of Cat Care
What to Do When Your Cat Is Sick: CONTACT IRRITANT DERMATITIS
Contact irritant dermatitis can occur in any cat whose skin comes into contact with an irritating substance such as certain soaps, detergents, plants, paints, insect sprays, or other chemicals. The reaction can look similar to that described for allergic dermatitis, but tends to be limited to the areas that have been in contact with the substance and is more common in sparsely haired skin areas. If left untreated, the affected areas often become moist and sticky.
Contact irritant dermatitis is treated much like allergic dermatitis, but long-term success is more likely since it is usually easier to find the offending substance and remove it permanently. The first thing to do is to remove the cause. If the contact dermatitis is due to a flea collar, remove the flea collar. Bathe your cat and rinse his or her coat thoroughly. If these methods are insufficient to relieve the signs, have a veterinarian examine your cat. Corticosteroids will probably be given, and a soothing antibiotic- corticosteroid cream dispensed, if necessary, for home use. Since cats often lick off any topically applied medications an Elizabethan collar may be suggested as a way to prevent licking of an affected skin area.