Recurrent scabs on horse's legs? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 06-18-2011, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Recurrent scabs on horse's legs?

Hi all! My mare has been getting recurrent scabs on her legs. However, they are not like anything I've seen before. They seem to be individual scabs that are quite thick. They range in size, but the largest is almost the diameter of a dime, and again, pretty thick. She only gets a few of them..maybe one on each leg, and only on two or three legs at at time, and I'm pretty sure they are in basically the same spots.

I used to think she was just getting scrapes and it would scab over before I noticed. They don't bother her and she's healthy otherwise. I clean the scabs (if that's what they are) daily. Occasionally, a scab will come off (not sure if they do on their own or she knocks them on something) and bleeding, raw skin will be underneath. I treat the wound, but the scab comes back! Maybe I'm not caring for it properly?

What in the world is this? A fungus? A virus? Poor wound care on my part? Thanks for any input!
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post #2 of 11 Old 06-18-2011, 01:31 PM
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Eventer, it sounds like a fungus.

My gray Arabian gets something similar every year, and my vet said it's a fungus of some type.

Good for you for keeping it mostly under control, as it can spread up their legs and onto the rest of their body if it's not taken care of properly.

I found a mixture of Betadine, bleach (just a smidge), a drop of dish washing liquid, and water helps clear it up.

You want the truth? You can't HANDLE the truth!
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post #3 of 11 Old 06-19-2011, 03:58 PM
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Does it sound like this? REMEDY FOR "SCRATCHES" by Heather Smith Thomas [01/01;F;101f5]

And look like some of these pictures? The worst pics are what can happen if Scratches is left unattended. scratches on horses - Google Search

You are doing a good job of keeping them clean. You can also put some generic diaper rash cream on the sores to help them heal faster and keep the flies off.

I don't show, so I can hack my poor horses legs up any way I feel like to keep Scratches at a minimum. I just shaved everyone's fetlock areas down, crewcut style, this morning. This is the third shaving this year and I have only had Scratches outbreaks right after it rains, the sun comes out and they walk thru the humid/wet grass.

I never used to cut leg hair but I do since I moved here because two of the four are a lot more prone to Scratches and Rainrot these days.

It's a good thing their fetlock hair isn't part of their breed standards because I shave it clear back to where one can see the Ergot

The purpose of shaving all that hair is to allow the skin to dry quicker; the hair holds moisture in and the begets scratches sores on horses prone to them.

The immune system plays an important role, as well. Like people, some horses naturally have a weaker immune system. My horse most prone to Scratches is also on herbs for dust/mold/pollen allergies. I feed him 2,400 I.U. of people Vitamin E daily, during the warm months, to help.

Welcome to the forum, hope this information is helpful for you and if you want to see pictures of their hairless hooves, I'll be happy to take some

Last edited by walkinthewalk; 06-19-2011 at 04:00 PM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-19-2011, 04:32 PM
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I agree with Walk's advice about clipping - don't irritate the skin or you will spread whatever it is through the tiny breaks in the skin that clipping can cause. I had the experience of the worst case of scratches that my vet has ever seen, which was caused by killing one thing (bacteria and fungus) just to let another thing (Pseudomonas bacteria) take over. She got vasculitis and her back legs stocked up - which sometimes is permanent. I got lucky - but mine started out EXACTLY what you're describing, just dime-sized scabs that came off but didn't heal properly. Since that episode, what's worked best for me is nutrition (like Walk said, and also I use omega 3s for general immune system and skin/coat health) and I now swear by Vetericyn spray gel. It dries up and clears up any spots and keeps them from spreading. There was a therapy horse at our therapeutic riding center who had a bad case and they'd tried everything - and I recommended Vetericyn for him. Cleared up him in a week, I'm happy to say. It's expensive, $30-40 for 16 oz, but much less than the $1600 in IV antibiotics I went through that first year.
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post #5 of 11 Old 06-20-2011, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your replies! The scabs are on the front of her fetlocks for the most part, are single scabs, so doesn't look like any case of scratches I've seen. I will continue cleaning and will try the solution you recommended, Speed Racer, and I'll look for that spray to prevent infection. I've been wondering, though, how effective cleaning the scabs are since they are so thick. I'll keep doing it, of course, if just to keep it from spreading :) But will it ever go away?
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post #6 of 11 Old 06-20-2011, 10:37 AM
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Do you have any photos? Does it look like this:

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post #7 of 11 Old 06-20-2011, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm no not really...I'll take some today and post them :)
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post #8 of 11 Old 06-20-2011, 02:08 PM
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kind of sounds like mud fever... are they itchy? or do they hurt? i would agree to clip the hair..moisture is only trouble. you want them to stay as dry as possible. apply an iodine shampoo like mega tech by equss to the site. but wouldn't keep washing them.. sometimes it makes them worse by repeatedly shampooing or scrubbing as it allows more bacteria to enter the pores as it washes the natura oils away.

if she is standing it wet (usually a stall is worse than ouside) try to keep it clean and dry.

good luck
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-20-2011, 02:36 PM
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horselvr i have a gelding with the same thing on one of his hind legs on the front of his cannon bone. Only diffrence is he has no white on that leg.Iv been treating it with a fungus shampoo but doesnt seem to make any diffrence.
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post #10 of 11 Old 06-21-2011, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Royal Pine Buck View Post
kind of sounds like mud fever...
Mud Fever and scratches are the same --- it gets confusing because there are so many different names for the same skin conditions.

Where I am from originally it as always called mud fever but where I now live, it is called scratches

Some horses are more prone than others because their immune systems are weaker.

My 23 yr old never had skin issues until he was diagnosed with insulin resistance four years ago. The skin issues came upon him like a fire storm; caught me totally off guard because he'd always been so healthy no matter what part of the country we lived in

The strict diet he is on for his IR helps, plus I have him on 12,000 I.U. of Vitamin E daily; that is in addition to what he gets from pasture, hay & vit/min supplements. I cut that way back in the winter but, along with keeping his legs clipped really short, the large doses of Vit E help immensely.
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