How to Clean Your Dog’s Skin Folds

Pug with Wrinkles on Face by Seaside

The wrinkly faces of the Pug, Bulldog, Shar Pei and other brachycephalic breeds (those with pushed-in muzzles) are adorable to behold, but they also require regular cleaning to keep them free of debris, odor and even infections.

In this article we are going to explore those wrinkles to discover how to clean dog skin folds. Don’t worry, it’s not that hard.

Shar Pei Laying in Grass in the Summer

What You Will Need:

Before we embark on the journey of cleaning those fuzzy folds, let’s explore what you will need to get the job done.

  • baby or dog wipes (or a solution of half water and half gentle dog shampoo can also be used)
  • soft washcloth
  • petroleum jelly or cornstarch
  • cotton balls
  • dog treats

Dogue de Bordeaux from France is the French Mastiff

Step 1: Be Prepared

Get your supplies ready and close by in an area where you and your dog are comfortable. Have your wipes open and a few removed or your shampoo solution mixed and at the ready. Have your cotton balls and wash cloth handy as well.

Step 2: Have Your Pooch

Call your pooch over to you and have him or her sit directly in front of you, face-to-face.

Step 3: Pick a Fold!

Pick a face fold and place your thumb and forefinger on each side of it. Now gently open it and wipe with the washcloth (or facial wipe) from one side to the other. Repeat this method for each skinfold.

Hint: Always be sure to wipe the area gently to prevent abrasions from occurring. Also be sure to reward your dog with kind words, encouragement or even his favorite treats to make the experience enjoyable.

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Step 4: Dry a Fold

Now place a dry washcloth over your forefinger and wipe each facial wrinkle in the same manner as you did in step three (from one side to the other). Continue to reposition the washcloth so you are always working with a dry portion of the soft cloth..

Tip: Leaving moisture inside facial folds can lead to skin infections and skin fold pyoderma (the presence of pus).

Step 5: Wax on, Wax Off

If using petroleum jelly, dip the cotton ball into the petroleum jelly container and scoop a tiny amount onto it. Once again open each fold and apply a thin layer to the skin, using a clean cotton ball for each new wrinkle application. Applying this product to the skin folds will help repel the moisture and conditions the skin.

Tip: If using cornstarch, simply sprinkle it into each fold. However, watch it doesn’t clump as this can also cause irritation to the skin.

Step 6: Treats! 

Finally, give your patient pal another special treat with plenty of praise or play a fun game with him so he associates the cleaning with a positive outcome.

TIp: Experts are in conflict about how many times per week skin folds need to be tended to; some say daily while others recommend three times-a-week. Use your discretion when it comes to cleaning your dog’s skin folds to determine how many times each week works best for your canine companion.

Wrinkled Shar Pei Laying on the CouchIrritation and Infection of Dog Skin Folds:

Irritation or skin infections in the skin folds of dogs is usually caused by the friction of the skin rubbing together. In most cases, it will appear to be red and raw-looking skin. This can be soothed by applying diaper cream in the same manner as the petroleum jelly.

However, if you notice an odor, open wounds or skin that looks a lot more than just irritated, see your vet. Your pooch could have an infection, which may require medicated ointments and/or antibiotics to clear up.

Close up of Wrinkles on Pug's Face


Even those these wrinkly little guys may need some extra TLC, they are still wonderful companions in so many other ways.

One of those breeds that has won the heart of millions of pet parents is the French Bulldog. Want to know more about this comical and sweet breed? Check out our article on Blue French Bulldogs, the best French Bulldog breeders, or the difference between the French Bulldog and the Boston Terrier.

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