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There’s A Fungus Among Us! (And Other Icky Horse Skin Conditions)

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We’ve all been there. You go out to see your horse…and what the heck! Your buddy is looking crusty and missing hair! Horse skin conditions are a common frustration of horse owners. They can be caused by a variety of things including fungi, bacteria, and insect bites. They can be difficult to diagnose but the good news is that most common fungal, bacterial, and insect related conditions often respond to topical treatment which is great because oral systemic treatments can be extremely costly.

One type of common fungal condition is commonly mistaken as a parasitic infection due to its deceiving name. Despite its common name, Ringworm is actually a fungus which can affect multiple horses in a herd. Fungi are primitive plants which reproduce by sending out spores in moist environments. They love warm, humid areas and wet seasons.

Ringworm in horses is very easily transmitted between animals by sharing equipment such as tack, brushes, or blankets. Often the lesions will be found in the saddle area or girth area. Ringworm is one cause of the condition commonly referred to as “girth itch". This is when the lesions appear in the girth area causing irritated; sore skin. Girth itch can progress to cause very large sores making it impossible to ride until the area is healed. Ringworm in horses usually appears as a crusted circular shaped lesion. The skin will appear dry and flaky and the hair will often fall out revealing a ring of baldness, hence the lovely name Ringworm. Other times the reaction will look similar to hives. Ringworm can most effectively be avoided by carefully disinfecting, or simply not sharing tack and equipment between horses. When a lesion is noticed, topical treatments can be effective. 

A second type of common skin condition is called Rain Rot, also known as rain scold or dermatophilosis. This skin disease is actually caused by bacteria called Dermatophilus congolesis which does well in wet conditions and enters through damaged skin. Rain Rot is usually most prominent over the horse’s top line. So you may notice it along your horse’s neck, back, and tail area. The affected area usually appears as raised crusty clumps of hair which usually fall out leaving bald patches.  Rain Rot is very contagious so be careful to not cross contaminate your herd. Disinfect equipment or strictly avoid sharing between horses. Rain Rot often affects horses with compromised immune systems as well so if your horse appears to be affected by Rain Rot it is always a good idea to check in with your vet.

 Scratches is another common skin condition related to moist conditions. It usually affects the area under your horse’s fetlock and appears as a moist, gooey, crusty scabs and hair loss. Breaks in the skin due to irritants such as allergic reactions, mites, or other irritating exposures allow bacterial or fungi to enter the compromised area. If your horse spends a lot of time in a moist or muddy environment this can lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infections. This condition is also known as greasy heel. Horses with feathered legs such as draft breeds seem to be more susceptible. Try to keep your horse in a clean, dry environment to avoid this condition. If you do suspect that your horse has Scratches clean and dry the area thoroughly. Often clipping the area can greatly speed up the healing process by allowing the area to stay drier.

Sweet itch or Summer Itch, is a reaction to the bites of tiny gnats often called no-see-’ems.  The horse’s reaction to the saliva of the bugs cause small, itchy bumps on the skin. Often the horse’s mane and tail head are most affected. While the bites themselves do not cause a lot of damage the horse will be extremely itchy and will scratch on anything around causing scabs and sores.  

Good barn and horse hygiene can help to prevent most of these frustrating horse skin conditions. Keep your horses in clean and dry environments. This may mean keeping them out of muddy pastures or turnout areas during the wetest times of year. If you have no choice but to turn out in wet conditions make sure to clean your horse up after turnout including a quick rinse and then allowing them to dry in a clean environment. If you do notice that your horse appears to have a nasty skin condition remember to avoid cross contamination between horses (isolate your horse and do not share equipment). Clean equipment using diluted bleach. Bathe the affected and surrounding areas with an anti-fungal or anti-bacterial shampoo, then towel dry or air dry thoroughly. Clip the affected area if needed but don’t forget to disinfect your clippers and blades afterwards!

For an up-close look at various horse skin conditions, check out this great slideshow from Thehorse.com.

Following a good cleansing, use a topical treatment such as Corona’s Fung-A-Way. This outstanding topical fungicide aids in the control of several fungal infections including ringworm, summer itch, girth itch, and other horse skin conditions. The non-staining formula also contains Allantoin which helps protect and soothe irritated skin.

 Fung-A-Way Horse Skin Condition Treatment

Interested in trying Corona Fung-A-Way?  Follow the link below to enter to win a bottle.  3 lucky winners will be announced on 5/31/13.  For additional information, visit Manna Pro's website to learn more about the benefits of Corona Fung-A-Way.

 Enter To Win Corona Fung-A-Way

Until next time,


Carolyn

 

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