Cat Scratch Itchy Bumps Immediately

What Causes Itchy Bumps from Cat Scratches

The primary causes of itchy bumps from cat scratches are an allergic reaction, bacterial infection, or simple skin irritation. When cats scratch or bite, their claws or teeth may leave behind saliva, small amounts of dander, and/or bacteria. For people who are allergic to cats, exposure to even small amounts of saliva or dander can trigger an allergic reaction that results in red, itchy bumps at the scratch site1. If bacteria called Bartonella henselae infects the scratch wound, it can lead to cat scratch disease, which also causes swollen lymph nodes and fever in addition to a bumpy red rash2, 3. Even if allergy or infection are not factors, the skin irritation and minor damage from any cat scratch can result in bothersome itching and bumps.

Symptoms of Itchy Bumps from Cat Scratches

When a cat’s scratch breaks the skin, it can allow bacteria from the cat’s claws to get under the skin and cause an infection. This often results in red, raised bumps at the scratch site a few days later. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, “The scratch or bite marks may develop a little crust in the center of the scratch and eventually fall off, leaving a small open sore” (1).

Other common symptoms, according to KidsHealth, include (2):

  • Itching or burning sensation around the scratch
  • Swelling around the scratch
  • Oozing or crusting over the scratch

The bumps can start out looking similar to insect bites. However, the itching and redness tends to get worse over several days as the infection develops. Some people may also experience swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, fever, and body aches.

Severe infections may additionally cause symptoms like headaches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash. Without treatment, very rare complications could include inflammation of the brain, pneumonia, bone infection, or damage to the liver or spleen.



Risk Factors for Developing Itchy Bumps

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing itchy bumps and other symptoms after a cat scratch. According to the Cleveland Clinic, people who are allergic to cats may experience more severe reactions from cat scratches compared to non-allergic people [1]. Those with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, are also more prone to infections from cat scratches [2].

Existing skin conditions like eczema can make people more susceptible to skin irritation and infection from cat scratches [3]. Proper wound care is also important – not cleaning the scratch area thoroughly or covering it with an airtight bandage could lead to more severe symptoms. The scratch may appear harmless at first, but can quickly progress to redness, swelling, and itchiness if not properly cleaned and monitored.

Overall, those with allergies to cats, compromised immune function, and pre-existing skin conditions should take extra care to avoid cat scratches whenever possible. Any cat scratches that do occur should immediately be cleaned with soap and water, followed by close monitoring for any signs of reaction or infection.


First Aid Treatment for Itchy Cat Scratch Bumps

If you develop itchy bumps or a rash after a cat scratch, there are some simple first aid steps you can take at home to ease symptoms:

Wash the Scratch with Soap and Water

Thoroughly clean the scratch with mild soap and warm water. This helps remove bacteria and any cat hair or debris that could cause further irritation. Gently pat dry.

Apply Antibiotic Ointment

After cleaning, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment like Neosporin to the scratch. This can prevent infection and create a barrier to scratching.

Use a Cold Compress

Wrap an ice pack or cold compress in a towel and apply to the scratch for 10-15 minutes at a time to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Take an Antihistamine

An oral antihistamine like Benadryl can provide relief from itchiness. Follow dosage instructions based on your age and weight.

While these first aid tips may provide some symptom relief, it’s important to monitor the scratch closely and call your doctor if you experience increased redness, swelling, warmth, or any sign of infection (Source). Severe reactions may require medical treatment.

Seeking Medical Care for Severe Reactions

In some cases, cat scratch bumps can lead to a more serious infection or condition that requires medical attention. Signs to watch out for include:

– Spreading redness, pus, or oozing from the scratch site, which indicates infection (Hopkins Medicine)

– Swollen lymph nodes near the scratch, which can signal cat scratch disease (Family Doctor)

– Fever, fatigue, headache, or body aches, flu-like symptoms that may occur with cat scratch fever (KidsHealth)

– Very painful bumps that persist or worsen over time (Hopkins Medicine)

In these cases, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly for assessment and treatment with antibiotics if an infection is present.

Medical Treatments for Itchy Bumps

If the itchy bumps from a cat scratch are severe or persist for more than a few days, medical treatment may be required. Some common medical treatments include:

– Oral antibiotics like azithromycin to eliminate the bacteria that causes cat scratch disease, if present (

– Topical steroid creams or oral antihistamines to reduce inflammation and itching from an allergic reaction (

– Thorough cleansing of the wound with antiseptic solution to prevent infection.

– A tetanus vaccine or booster shot if you haven’t had one in the past 5-10 years.

If the itchy bumps are severe, painful, or accompanied by fever or swollen lymph nodes, it’s important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. With appropriate care, most cases of itchy bumps from cat scratches can be effectively managed.

Home Remedies to Soothe Itchy Bumps

There are several natural home remedies that can help soothe the itchiness and inflammation caused by cat scratches. These remedies are gentle on skin and help provide relief without the need for medications.

One easy home remedy is taking an oatmeal bath. The oatmeal can help absorb excess moisture and soothe irritated skin. Fill a sock or cloth bag with uncooked oatmeal and tie it closed. Place the bag under running water while filling your bath tub. Soak in the tub for 15-20 minutes to allow the oatmeal to work its magic.

Applying aloe vera gel directly to the scratch marks can also provide cooling relief. Aloe contains antioxidants and enzymes that reduce inflammation. Gently rub the gel into the affected area several times a day. Make sure to use 100% pure aloe without any added ingredients.

Cold compresses can numb the area and decrease swelling. Wrap some ice cubes or a cold pack in a towel and hold it on the scratch for 10-15 minutes a few times a day. Just be careful not to apply anything frozen directly on the skin.

Creating a paste with baking soda and water can also temporarily relieve itchiness. The baking soda has antibacterial effects to prevent infection. Mix just enough water to form a thick paste and spread it over the scratch. Rinse off after 15-20 minutes once dry.

Diluting apple cider vinegar with water and dabbing it on the area can help combat bacteria and reduce itching. The acetic acid in the vinegar acts as a natural antibacterial agent. Be sure to dilute with an equal part water first before applying.

Preventing Itchy Bumps from Cat Scratches

There are several ways to help prevent developing itchy bumps or rashes after being scratched by a cat.

It’s important to regularly trim your cat’s nails to keep them blunt and dull. Sharp nails are more likely to cause scratches that break the skin. Use pet-safe nail clippers to carefully trim the sharp tips off.

Always wash your hands with soap and water after petting or handling cats. This removes any allergen particles that may have transferred to your skin from your cat’s saliva or dander when scratched or bitten. According to Cleveland Clinic, handwashing can help prevent cat scratch disease.

Using pet wipes or grooming wipes on your cat can also help reduce allergens on their fur. Gently wipe down your cat’s coat, especially around the head, neck, legs and paws where they are likely to spread allergens when scratching.

If you know you have sensitivity to cats, talk to your doctor about taking an oral antihistamine before interacting with your pet. Antihistamines block the symptom-causing histamine reaction and can reduce itching and inflammation from cat scratches.

When to See a Vet for Your Cat’s Scratching

Scratching is normal behavior for cats, but excessive or frequent scratching can indicate an underlying medical issue. It’s important to monitor your cat’s scratching habits and see a vet if any concerning patterns emerge. According to VCA Hospitals, you should take your cat to the vet if their scratching seems excessive or is leading to hair loss, wounds, or skin damage.

Some signs that may warrant a vet visit include scratching that:

  • Occurs relentlessly throughout the day
  • Leaves bald patches or sores on your cat’s skin
  • Draws blood
  • Causes your cat to lick or bite at their skin

Skin conditions like allergies or parasites can provoke scratching behaviors, so it’s important to rule these causes out. Your vet can check for fleas, mites, or infections and provide treatment options to stop the itching and allow healing. They can also assess if stress, anxiety, or other factors may be contributing to obsessive scratching.

Regular vet visits are also a good opportunity to trim your cat’s nails. Keeping the nails neatly trimmed can minimize damage from scratching. According to PetMD, claws should be clipped every 10-14 days to maintain a healthy length.

Don’t hesitate to consult your vet if your cat’s scratching seems abnormal. They can help determine the cause and provide solutions to keep your cat comfortable.

Providing a Scratch Friendly Environment

Making your home cat-friendly starts with providing appropriate scratching surfaces. Cats have a natural instinct to scratch, so it’s important to direct this behavior to acceptable objects.

Invest in a few sturdy cat scratching posts in areas your cat frequents. Look for posts at least 3 feet tall that allows your cat to fully stretch. Scratching posts wrapped in sisal rope or carpet are ideal surfaces. Placing posts near windows, cat beds, and play areas can encourage use. Rotate toys like balls and feather wands attached to the post to make it more enticing.

Cardboard scratch pads can also satisfy your cat’s urge to scratch. Try horizontal and vertical scratch pads. You can also attach corrugated cardboard pads to walls at your cat’s scratching height.

Interactive toys like catnip-filled mice and balls can provide an appealing alternative to scratching furniture. Rotate a variety of toys to prevent boredom.

Most importantly, praise and reward your cat whenever you catch them using appropriate scratching surfaces. This positive reinforcement is key to redirecting scratching to acceptable objects.

Scroll to Top