How to Treat Skin Fold Dermatitis in Bulldogs: Easy Care Tips

A Bulldog with skin fold dermatitis close up gloved hands with cue tip to treat infection

Knowing how to treat skin fold dermatitis, or intertrigo, is part of the Bulldog care package. Because of this breed’s unique shape and wrinkles, these dogs are more likely to get this condition. But don’t worry too much. There are ways you can help your wrinkly canine feel all better.

Treatment starts with keeping those wrinkly areas clean and dry. Since moisture makes it worse, make sure to gently wipe between the folds with a soft, damp cloth and then dry it thoroughly. Sometimes, you might need special creams or medications from the vet to clear up an infection or to keep the inflammation down. 

Get ready for some hands-on care. We’re talking cleaning routines, choosing the right products, and basically giving your dog their mini spa day. And we have the science to back it up with extensive research by Dr. Rosanna Marsella, DVM, and Dr. Hilary Jackson,  DVM, Ph.D. in the BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Dermatology.

So, What Is Skin Fold Dermatitis In Bulldogs?

Skin fold dermatitis is that occurs in the pocket or space between two folds of skin. These creases rub together, leading to irritation, infection, and inflammation. If you’ve noticed your pup scratching at its wrinkles a bit more than usual, it might be dealing with this issue. This condition, also known as intertrigo, can be pretty uncomfortable for your pup but manageable.

Our work on why are my Bulldog’s wrinkles red notes that skin fold dermatitis is typically the culprit in most of this breed’s skin woes. You stay on top of those wrinkles to get ahead of this condition. After all, with great cuteness comes great responsibility. And this a very common issue in both English Bulldogs and French bulldogs.

This skin disease is most common in the tail fold, the folds around their lips (lip fold dermatitis, and in the wrinkles around their face. Although it can also occur in other areas of their body, especially if they have lots of loose skin.

And what is staying on top of the wrinkles anyway? Let’s start with why this problem happens in the first place.


The cause of intertrigo is mainly due to the way their skin creases trap moisture and debris. These dogs have these cute wrinkles. We won’t fight you there. But, nature journal research shows that these extreme conformations increase intertigo risk, particularly in Frenchies and English Bulls. 

The catch is these create a warm and moist environment where bacteria and yeast can thrive, leading to infection and inflammation. Friction between the two is yet another reason for this issue. 


You’ll know something’s up if you see:

  • Redness and inflammation; 
  • Your Bulldog is very smelly;
  • Constant licking at those wrinkly areas;
  • Itching and discomfort in the areas;
  • Discharge: you might also spot some oozing if an infection is setting in; and
  • Hair loss.

Risk Factors

Remember, brachycephalic breeds, including Bulls, are already predisposed to skin disasters. Studies list  problems directly related to brachycephaly (short-noses) to be skin fold dermatitis, Malassezia dermatitis (fungal infection), and otitis externa (ear infection). 

Still, some of these wrinkly pups are more likely to get this problem due to factors like humidity, heat, lack of grooming, allergies, and lack of airflow in their living environment. Obesity can make it worse because it increases the depth of the wrinkles, making the perfect hiding spots for all those nasty irritants.

Diagnosis of Dermatitis

A vet gloved hands gently wiping a Bulldog's skin to diagnose the type of infection

Before you can start treating, you’ve got to be sure of the diagnosis. Paying a visit to your vet is a must, and they might run a few tests to nail down the problem.

Veterinary Examination

Your vet’s going to have a good look at your dog’s skin, especially where those creases are deep. They’ll check for redness, swelling, or anything that doesn’t look quite right. It’s important they see the irritated spots, which often hide in the wrinkles on your pup’s face or other areas.

Tests and Identification

Your vet may decide to do some tests, like skin cytology. That’s a fancy term for looking at your dog’s skin cells under a microscope to see if there are any bacteria or yeast causing trouble. They’ll take a simple swab from the affected area and then check it out. This helps them choose the best treatment plan for your buddy. Sometimes, they might need to do more, like a skin biopsy, but that’s less common.

Skin Fold Dermatitis Treatment Options

When your canine is dealing with skin fold pyoderma, it’s all about keeping those wrinkles clean and irritation-free. We wrote you a gold mine on how to treat infected Bulldog wrinkles, which you can check out.

Here’s how you can help your canine feel better.

1. Medications

Antibiotics or antifungal meds are the most effective solution to this condition. These could be pills you give your pup or sometimes injections if the vet thinks that’s best.

2. Topical Treatments

Hand applying topical medicine cream to Bulldog skin fold dermatitis wrinkles

Creams and wipes that are medicated can be a big help. You can use these right on the raw or itchy spots. A study on effect of topical medication noted that certain medications can strengthen the skin barrier when applied directly to the affected areas in French bulldogs. 

3. Long-Term Management

Keeping those wrinkles dry and clean is key for the long haul. Regular cleaning with gentle, dog-safe products is a must. You’ll want to check and clean every day to prevent problems before they start.

4. Home Care Strategies

Managing this skin condition at home involves keeping your pup clean, tweaking their diet, keeping an eye on their weight, and considering some natural remedies. These steps can help reduce the irritation and discomfort that come with this condition.

Cleaning Routines

Owner washing Bulldog with medication shampoo to treat dermatitis

Start by gently cleaning the affected skin folds with a damp cloth every day. Be sure to dry the areas thoroughly, as moisture can worsen the dermatitis. Consider using wipes specifically designed for dog skin fold care, which you can find in pet stores or through some veterinary clinics. Spend this time to check your dog for any redness or white bumps and even odor.

Dietary Adjustments

Sometimes, what you feed your bulldog can affect their skin health. Aim for a balanced diet with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to support skin health. If you’re unsure about the best diet, chat with your vet or look into home-cooked diet options that could benefit your dog’s skin.

Weight Management

Keep your dog’s weight in check because extra pounds can increase the severity of crease issues. Regular exercise and a proper diet are key. Not sure if your pet needs to shed a few pounds? A veterinary check-up can help determine that.

Natural Remedies

Some natural options may help soothe irritated skin. These include:

  • Apply a thin layer of aloe vera and coconut oil to the clean, dry wrinkles for proven relief. Be careful with how much you use, as too much oil can create a messy dog and home!
  • Rinse them with a 1:1 water and apple cider vinegar solution. Remember to dry, dry, dry.
  • A zinc-based wash for sensitive skin  is another safe option you can use to calm the affected skin areas, but always make sure it’s pet-safe and free from additives.

Preventative Measures

Owner drying a Bulldog with towel to prevent skin fold dermatitis

Taking action to prevent dermatological problems is key to keeping your pup happy and healthy. You’ll want to focus on consistent care and some tweaks in their environment.

Regular Check-Ups

Make regular check-ups with your vet a priority. They can catch early signs of intertigo  and give you tips on care and cleaning. It’s kind of like how you keep an eye on your own health, but in this case, for your canine.

Environmental Modifications

Next, let’s talk about environmental modifications. Keep your pup’s living space clean and dry, especially during hot or humid weather. It’s super important because these dogs can easily overheat, and a warm, moist environment is like a playground for skin infections.

Also, make sure to dry your bulldog thoroughly after they get wet, such as after they go swimming (and don’t forget to dry the ears too!).

Protective Barriers

Owner spraying a protective barrier onto their Bulldog to prevent skin fold dermatitis

Finally, using protective barriers can be a game changer. Applying a thin layer of a pet-safe barrier cream or spray, as recommended by your vet, can help protect those sensitive wrinkles from moisture and irritants.

Remember, staying on top of these things can save your pooch from discomfort and save you from stress in the long run!

When to Consult a Vet

Here’s the lowdown on when it’s time to hit up your vet for help:

  • Red Flags: If you notice redness, swelling, or sores in the skin folds, that’s a clear sign something’s not right.
  • Odor Alert: A funky smell coming from the wrinkles is also a bad sign. This can mean there’s an infection.
  • Scratching & Licking: If your pup is always scratching or licking at their folds, it could be bugging them big time.
  • Behavior Changes: If your usually happy pup is now grumpy and doesn’t want to play, it’s worth a checkup.

Remember, catching this stuff early means a quicker fix and a happier dog. Your vet can give the right treatment and tips to prevent future flare-ups. Don’t wait too long, though. Dermatitis in the skin folds can get nasty fast if it’s not treated right away.

 Keep your dog’s wrinkles clean and dry, but if you spot any of these troubles, make that vet appointment. They’ve got the know-how to get your buddy back to their happy, wrinkly self.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When it comes to treatments, knowing the right steps can make a big difference. These frequently asked questions cover what you need to know.

What’s the best way to clear up my Bulldog’s skin fold infection?

Keeping the infected area clean and dry is crucial. Gently cleaning the folds with a canine-specific antibacterial wipe can help clear up an infection. It’s essential to consult your vet as they might prescribe topical treatments or antibiotics.

Do those medicated wipes really help with my dog’s lip fold dermatitis?

Yes, medicated wipes can be effective in maintaining hygiene for your dog’s lip fold dermatitis. They are designed to remove debris and discharge while combating bacteria and fungus.

What kind of ointment can I use on my dog’s irritated skin folds?

A vet-recommended antibiotic or antifungal ointment can relieve your dog’s irritated wrinkles. It’s important to use only products that are safe for your pet, as some human medications can be harmful to dogs.

Is it common for Bulldogs to get sore and painful skin by their lips?

Yes, Bulldogs commonly suffer from lip fold dermatitis, especially around their lip folds. Their distinctive facial folds can trap moisture from drool and debris, leading to irritation and soreness.

How do I know if my dog’s skin fold irritation is getting better or worse?

Improvement is generally seen as less redness, reduced odor, and your dog seems more comfortable. If the folds are getting redder, smell worse, or your dog is scratching more, it’s likely worsening, and you should contact your vet.

Are there specific treatments for Bulldogs with vulvar fold dermatitis?

Treatment for vulvar fold dermatitis typically involves regular cleaning and the use of topical medications prescribed by your vet. In severe cases, surgery to reduce the folds may be recommended.

Final Thoughts

Treating skin fold dermatitis in your bulldog is all about keeping those wrinkly areas clean and dry. Check their skin folds daily and gently wipe them with a soft cloth. Use mild, dog-friendly cleansers; your vet can recommend a good one.

When you’re drying the folds, be sure not to rub. Dab them instead to avoid irritation. And, hey, it might be tempting to use powders or creams, but it’s best to ask your vet first. Some products can actually make things worse.

Remember, some dogs might need meds to get better, like antibiotics or antifungal treatments. Your vet’s the go-to person for this stuff since they can tell what’s best for your pup’s special needs.

Tamsin de la Harpe

Tamsin de la Harpe, with a lively spirit and 15 years of experience in dog training and behavior, brings a unique flair to the team. Based in South Africa, she is deeply engaged in rehabilitating dogs, focusing on their mental and nutritional health. Tamsin's approach to dog behavior is hands-on and heartfelt, shaped by her life with her own dogs and horses. Her journey in canine behavior is ongoing, as she continues advanced studies in this field.

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