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Hormone creams, sprays and gels have become popular methods for women to avoid taking oral versions of these medications. The topical hormone is usually rubbed on to a woman’s forearm or leg so that her skin can absorb the hormone without exposing the rest of her body to possible harmful side effects.
Recently, veterinarians have begun seeing animals, even puppies and kittens, with enlarged breast tissue, intermittent vaginal bleeding and other hormonal symptoms. Apparently, exposure to hormones their owners are using are causing these health problems in their pets.
A veterinarian in Florida, Dr. Terry Clekis, has seen five cases of hormone related problems in animals in his practice. One dog appeared to be going into heat despite having been spayed six months earlier. First, he wondered whether he had left some ovarian tissue inside during the surgery. Instead during a chat with the pet’s owner, his wife learned that the woman was using a hormone cream. Once precautions were taken by the owner, the pet no longer developed symptoms.
What happens is that pets often lick their owner’s arms, legs and hands. If owners only wipe their hands on a towel instead of washing afterwards, there may be residual hormone medication left on their skin. Contact with hormone creams on a daily basis by animals and children can lead to the development of significant blood levels.
Last summer the United States Food and Drug Administration sent out an alert after eight children had been exposed to the estrogen in Evamist estrogen spray in order to bring this risk to the public’s attention.
Precautions to take:
Use topical hormones on skin that will be covered with clothes. Men who use testosterone cream are told to rub it on their shoulders and back. Creams can be rubbed on any skin surface and they will still be absorbed. Evamist instructs women to spray the hormone on their forearm so women must avoid any contact with animals and children until it has dried completely. It is unclear why it can’t be sprayed on another skin surface of the body so extra care should be taken.