Battling Scratches

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Battling Scratches

This is a discussion on Battling Scratches within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Does vetrecil work for horses scrathes
  • Using desitin on scratches

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    09-26-2010, 12:02 PM
Battling Scratches

I have been battling the fungal condition called "scratches" with Scotch for the past few months. It seems to flare up whenever it gets wet and muddy in the pasture. He gets crusty legs (usually just one at a time--front and back) and they get swollen if I don't keep the scabs picked off.

Scotch is so patient with me, but it is all very uncomfortable for him. After the scabs are picked off (I hose his legs first to make this easier) I apply betadine as directed by the vet. If his legs are swollen, I wrap them.

This is a pretty much continuous cycle, as it has been a wet late summer/early fall. Is there anything else I can be doing to make him more comfortable? What works for you to get rid of scratches? The vet thought shaving his legs might help to keep them drier...with the winter snow coming in a few months would you do this?

None of my other horses have scratches--just Scotch. This hasn't been a problem in the past years that I have owned him.
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    09-26-2010, 09:10 PM

Sorry to hear about Scotch! I have battled scratches with my horse off and on for the last few years. Here are some things I do...not everything works for everyone, but knowledge is key. You will find something that works for you!!!

1. Clipping - excellent!!! It keeps moisture off the area.
2. Fiske's Hoof Balm (google it!) this stuff is FANTASTIC! It acts as a barrier for the moisture and also softens the scabs so they fall off themselves and the area heals from the great properties in the hoof balm. I even put this on my horses when they don't have scratches, when it's muddy or wet out. Great, great stuff!!! It comes with a brush and you just slap it on all over coronet band, pasterns, fetlock area...
3. If there is no swelling or pain, don't pick - this has worked for me. Picking spreads the bacteria causing more scabs.
4. If there IS swelling and lameness contact your vet. My vet prescribed a steroid cream that also has a freezing property in it for on the area. Bute for swelling.

I found with scratches that less is more! The more you pick, clean, wash, dry etc...the more agitated the area gets and the scabs spread.
I hope my ideas help - I suggest getting Fiske's as a preventative at the least. It's great to apply just as protection during muddy/wet days. :0) Fiske's is also great for other things - you can put it on wounds as well!!! Check out their website. I don't work for Fiske's or promote them, I am just a happy customer!!! Lol!!!!
    09-26-2010, 09:26 PM
I use Desitin. When I find the scratches I just apply a thick coating of Desitin (I used to wash with Dettol and dry, but I found this was actually prolonging the healing). I don't wrap it. I reapply the next day, then after that I only reapply if there is no more Desitin on the area until it's healed. With this I find that it heals fairly quickly.
I completely agree with Crazyequine 'less is more', put the 'goo' of your choice on and leave it -NO
I've never used Fiske's Hoof Balm, I didn't even know about it until after I was advised Desitin, but I've heard it works on pretty much everything.
    09-26-2010, 09:45 PM
I second Desitin - also a great barrier and softens the scabs!
I also put Desitin on top of really bad bug bites - works great as a repellent and speed healing!

    09-26-2010, 09:50 PM
"Schreiner's Herbal Solution"
Just spray it on twice a day....kills it dead within a week or less
    09-26-2010, 10:08 PM
Spirit horse - do you have to remove the scabs first for the solution to get in or spray directly on scabs?
    09-26-2010, 10:36 PM
Hi, I'm from midwest too and had this last year from July through January, despite regular vet attention. Like you, only one of my five horses was affected. By October's wet season it had flared up and by December we were still dealing with it in huge patches in all 4 legs up to knees/hocks. In December she ended up with IV antibiotics. Good news is that she did heal, finally, and is fine today (but we had a close call this spring, which I mention below.)

I agree with the other posters - less is more. DO NOT even rub or scuff the skin - don't pick scabs off if they're stuck. I loosened them with mineral oil which helps them fall off but in retrospect I tried to pick her legs clean of all scabs (internet advice) and that was too aggressive. I started with a combo of antibacterial cream with antifungal cream with Desitin...and it has always worked before but in her case, there was something else going on, too.

In my mare's case, we got rid of the original infection or fungus in October or November, by wrapping with antibacterial and antifungal ointments only to have pseudomonas aeruginosa take hold in early December. We got ahead of it with IV Gentamycin.

Before we had the pseudomonas diagnosed through skin biopsies and cultures, and after we got rid of it, he recommended that we use Nolvasan ointment for 3-4 days a month (wrapped) for prevention. I did that this spring and she rubbed herself raw under the we were dealing with scratches again under the bandages.

In a last-ditch effort to heal the rubs and stop the spread of the scratches, I did 3 things - left her in a stall with her legs open to the air (clipped legs, kept dry, no bandages to further irritate her skin); sprayed with Vetericyn gel, twice a day, liberally; and fed her Omega-3 supplements and free choice minerals to make sure that she got everything she needed to get healthy skin from the inside out. I did not touch the scabs until I could see they were falling off (hair growing underneath) and watched her legs like a hawk to make sure there weren't new spots (e.g., not spreading). If they had spread, I knew I would have needed to get my vet out again.

I don't know if I just got lucky or what, but the Vetericyn has been my new go-to for skin issues since this spring. We have not had any problems with scratches since I started using it and the horses have been out 24/7 on pasture. It has worked great - and even on this sensitive-skinned mare it has not irritated her. It's helped keep stuff from spreading, dried up oozy spots, and I've had the usual cuts and scrapes where it's been great as well.

My advice is that if the Desitin or other ointments don't do the trick in 3-5 days, switch over to Vetericyn and give it a shot. Watch for swelling, especially if it's accompanied by lameness. Use Desitin without aloe gel - the equine dermatologist that helped with my mare said that a lot of horses with skin issues are found to be allergic to aloe.

Good luck - I hope you find the right combination!
    09-26-2010, 10:38 PM
Wow - just read my last post and apologize for its length. So sorry....
    09-26-2010, 11:26 PM

Just spray it not attempt to remove...they will become dry and brittle when DEAD lol
    09-26-2010, 11:28 PM
I use Desitin ointment, or a store brand equivalent. It has worked for me so far. I slather it on, leave it alone for a day or 2, rub to loosen a bit and slather more where it has come off. A friends gelding had a bad case on his legs and she used this treatment with great results. Worth a try.

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