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Allergic skin infection is one of the common causes of irritations in horses.
It occurs due to exposure to allergens and inherited traits. Allergens are components that can cause itching or lumps (also known as urticaria or hives) in horses without itching. Different horses can be allergic to allergens such as insect bites, food allergens, grass, or pollen. Controlling allergens can be daunting because many horses react to multiple allergens.
Exposure to allergens causes skin inflammation and itchiness, and multiple allergens worsen the effects. Affected horses respond by biting, scratching, and relieving the irritation, leaving the skin inflamed and damaged with patchy or diffuse hair loss. The inflamed skin is susceptible to secondary bacterial infections, which worsens the itching. Signs of secondary bacterial infections or skin inflammation include areas with hair loss or a rough coat.
Some horses may develop small lumps in the grey scales on the skin, scabs, crusts, and reddened areas. These lesions often become open sores as the horse chews and rubs at them. Protecting the horse from insect bites is one of the best methods of preventing irritations, for horses with sensitive skin, the Kentucky rug helps to get rid of any irritations caused by insect. The rug is also designed to remain in place even when the horses roll.
Below, we explain the main infections in horses and how to treat them..
Use medicated shampoo baths containing an antimicrobial agent, 4% chlorhexidine, or 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. Some 4% chlorhexidine comprises 1% hydrocortisone, effectively reducing inflammation. Benzoyl peroxide helps remove crusts, even though it can bleach or dry out the coat in horses. Shampoos comprising ethyl lactate are effective, less drying, and gentler than other antimicrobial products. Topical antimicrobial sprays are ideal for small areas. These include 0.4% standout fluoride, ETDA-based products, or oxychloride. Here are steps to using medicated shampoo in horses.
- Groom the horse to remove dust and dirt
- Wet it thoroughly
- Massage shampoo gently on the coat
- Let the shampoo sit for 10 minutes and rinse it off thoroughly.
Bathe an infected horse twice weekly for up to three weeks until the scale patches, sores, or crusting clears.
Treating overgrown yeast in the ears
Scale inside a horse’s ears indicates yeast overgrowth after an allergic inflammation. You can treat this by applying miconazole cream or clotrimazole to the scaling areas in the ears every day for one to two weeks. Only use antifungal creams recommended by your veterinarian.
Besides triggering allergic itching, Culicoides transmit Onchocerca larvae which move across the horse’s skin, triggering crusting and itching. Use ivermectin to treat the horse based on its body weight. Use the treatment every two weeks for six weeks to eliminate the larvae. You can also use a single moxidectin treatment according to the vet’s recommendation based on the horse’s body weight. Some horses may develop swelling once the larvae die, but the reaction clears off in seven to 10 days.
Finally, establishing the underlying cause of irritations plays a core role in successful treatment. For example, if parasites are the cause, the vet will recommend suitable antiparasitic drugs. A treatment program that encourages preventive parasite control in a horse’s environment. Regular deworming or insect control programs can help reduce or eradicate some causes of irritation in horses.
Allison is the Publisher of Eclipse Magazine. She loves going to the Races and is learning to bet (despite being officially the worst bettor in the History of the Universe), there’s a lot more to learn…