Itchy Rash/Scabby Areas; What is it? - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 Old 07-19-2016, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 24
• Horses: 2
Itchy Rash/Scabby Areas; What is it?

Pictures attached.

History for bay mare: her tail has been itchy and the hair always seems to be rubbed off for about 3 years now. Don't judge me yet.. Since then, I have tried multiple different treatment options; different dewormers (as people assumed pinworms), the Listerine treatment, butt cream, MGT spray, iodine scrubs, you name it. It seems to go away, but every summer, surprise! it's back. At this point, I'm assuming it's some kind of fungal disease and I'm trying a diluted Betadine bath daily with an antifungal topical spray. The other areas as shown in photos have only popped up this year. I'm exhausted of trying to get rid of this thing that seems to never go away.. Are the body areas something else? People assume rainrot, but the hair doesn't come out like rainrot usually does. Is it fungal too; if so what should I do or is what I'm doing the best option?

History for red roan gelding: never had symptoms of anything until a few weeks ago. That's when the ear bleeding and scabbing started to show. I assumed it was from the sun since the two horses were in a small stand alone pasture with little shade (thank goodness I've moved from that situation..) but now he has scabbing all over his rump and his ears just look swollen and it's all very painful for him. Is it also a fungal thing he got from my mare? They've been together going on 3 years now.. I started by putting ointment on it and now I've put Nitrofurazone on both horses scars and cortizone on their tails for the itchiness.

Please, please help me. No negative comments please, I really have been trying my best. I mentioned it to several vets, some ambulatory and some via photos, and I have tried their suggestions. Anything that might work to make them feel better. As mentioned, some vets thought it was pinworms, but dewormers haven't improved the issue. Other vets believe it's a fungal issue and have suggested the routine I'm on, but I feel like I need more opinions as it's starting to get more and more painful for them and it's not improving.

Side note: I live in the south and they stay outside (with shade now), but it still is high 90s almost everyday.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg image1.JPG (128.8 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg image2.JPG (126.1 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg image3.JPG (135.2 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg image4.JPG (118.3 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg image5.JPG (147.3 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg image6.JPG (162.2 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg image8.JPG (128.0 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg image9.JPG (139.8 KB, 1 views)
Rosent is offline  
post #2 of 10 Old 07-19-2016, 11:34 PM
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Central Hill Country Texas
Posts: 5,551
• Horses: 5
Looks like a bad case of sweet itch, a hyper sensitivity to gnat bites.

One of mine looks very similar right now; worse on his belly and shoulders and not so bad on his ears. He just gets itchy all over and rubs the hair off his face to the point of creating open sores...rubs half of his mane off and sometimes his tail. He'll itch on tree trunks, low hanging branches, fence posts, the ground...anywhere to get a good scratch. Where the gnats bite him a couple of days later there is a small, scabby, bump, but the itching seems to be systemic.

You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise. quote from my very wizened trainer

Last edited by Reiningcatsanddogs; 07-19-2016 at 11:43 PM.
Reiningcatsanddogs is offline  
post #3 of 10 Old 07-20-2016, 12:06 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Wilson, N C
Posts: 1,695
• Horses: 3
To me it also looks like a reaction to bug bites...could also add heat, rain, and sun to the mix for rain rot on the body. Ears and face do look like bug bites. As for your mare rubbing her tail out.. have you checked and cleaned her udder? I had a mare years ago who was sensitive to bugs, she rubbed her mane and tail a lot. Tried most of the treatments you mentioned with mixed results. What finally worked was using anti dandruff shampoo on her mane and tail. It has anti fungal properties and worked great. Like you, I'd even tried antifungal sprays and creams with little success, but the shampoo worked.

As for the body sores, face and ears, tried cleaning the areas with selsum blue shampoo, or diluted betadine, and use fly spray or wipe ons. As long as your horses are outside (and you are in the muggy, hot, rainy south) it will probably be a continual problem.
HombresArablegacy is offline  
post #4 of 10 Old 07-20-2016, 12:30 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Middle Tennessee
Posts: 8,302
• Horses: 0
1. It looks like sweet itch, caused by the bite of midge flies.

If you have a regular vet, my strong suggestion would be to get the horse on its way to healing with a steroid shot. Just as long as the horse doesn't have some health issue to where a steroid shot might cause laminitis.

2. If you can't get a vet out, go to your local Co-Op or Tractor Supply and buy the injectable Vitamin A for cattle.

Feed 5Cc orally, once a week for two weeks in the feed. You can wait a month and repeat once if needed. Vitamin A stores in the liver so more is not better.

If you're feeding sweet feed, find something else, as sweet feed permeates thru the skin when the horse sweats and attracts flies. it's not good for a horse anyway.

3. If you don't see any sort of improvement in a few weeks, I would still get a vet out and ask for a steroid shot to help the horse over the hump. He has to be absolutely miserable.

4. You could also bath him in an antifungal/antibacterial shampoo for livestock and dogs. I know TSC carries something and your local Co-Op should also carry something.

You might also cold hose his chest and legs every night, to cool him down. I've been showering my horses before I bring them in for the night. I told DH to get ready for a big water bill, those horses are getting hosed down every night, as long as we stay in the 90's with 100+ heat index.

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
walkinthewalk is offline  
post #5 of 10 Old 07-20-2016, 08:14 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 10,241
• Horses: 0
All excellent suggestions given....

Can you try "Calm Coat"....
Gives some relief and stops the itch....

Equine Products | Calm Coat

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
horselovinguy is offline  
post #6 of 10 Old 07-20-2016, 09:07 AM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 7,379
• Horses: 0
The spots on the tail head and ear are horsefly bites. The rest looks like hairloss from the constant rubbing to relieve the vicious horsefly biting.

Even covering them in fly sheeting does not work.....the horseflies get under the sheets.

Try the spot on fly repellent, it may provide a little relief.
greentree is offline  
post #7 of 10 Old 07-20-2016, 09:09 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 4,879
• Horses: 2
I agree it appears to be sweet itch (for the mare - agree the gelding may be a different source). I recently wrote a post on another thread regarding sweet itch. The horse that rubs out their tail and/or mane/face on a yearly basis (underbelly is another key area) in the summer is most likely suffering from sweet itch.

It is an allergy to gnats, also called midges and no-see-ums. They are active in the spring and summer, which is why symptoms go away in the winter months.

Others have addressed the itching but the absolute key is to stop the horse from getting bitten. Most fly sprays do not target midges/gnats. DEET is very effective, especially if sprayed once daily just before the key time of day when the gnats bite. Where I live, that is in the evening at dusk, so I spray at dinnertime. DEET can cause skin reactions in some horses, so I only spray the HAIR around the base of the tail and mane and under the belly.

Gnats target the base of the mane, base of the tail, and under the belly near the sheath or udder (wherever there is bare skin). Because of this, many people miss spraying the right areas even if they have an effective fly spray.

For very bad cases, a sweet itch blanket such as a BOETT blanket is a great cure. They are expensive but last for years. Applying lotion or baby oil to the base of the mane, tail and underbelly also helps because it supposedly keeps the midges from biting the bare skin in those areas.

Sweet itch is known to be passed on genetically and tends to get worse each year (as many allergies do if there is continued exposure to the allergen).

One gnat bite can cause itching for a week or more. That is why just treating the itch will only be a temporary solution until you stop the horse from being bitten.
gottatrot is offline  
post #8 of 10 Old 07-20-2016, 01:58 PM
Join Date: May 2016
Location: The boondocks of Kansas
Posts: 1,271
• Horses: 0
The best treatment Ive found for sweet itch is to stall thehorse in front of a fan set on high when the midges, gnats, and no-see-ums areactive. At least here (Kansas), none ofthe topical treatments to repel those nasty insects seems to work.
Prairie is offline  
post #9 of 10 Old 07-20-2016, 02:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Palmyra, Wisconsin
Posts: 6,161
• Horses: 4
You might want to also try an antihistamine & for sure a fly mask with ears.
natisha is offline  
post #10 of 10 Old 07-20-2016, 03:57 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Middle Tennessee
Posts: 8,302
• Horses: 0
Originally Posted by Prairie View Post
The best treatment Ive found for sweet itch is to stall thehorse in front of a fan set on high when the midges, gnats, and no-see-ums areactive. At least here (Kansas), none ofthe topical treatments to repel those nasty insects seems to work.
That's what I do. Right now the heat Index is 107 F and it's only 2:PM. The big barrel fans are pushing hot air but it's still relief.

Knock-on-wood, my horses only have a few bites from deer flies on them ----so far. They spend the afternoon in the barn, then eat grass a few hours. I shower them down, put them in stalls for the night with each horse's fan aimed right him. Short of a cooling system for the barn, that's as good as it gets for them.

BUT --- you, me, and others with electric at the barn are fortunate. I'm not sure the OP has that option:(

Even though I'm not all for steroid shots, Im in favor of it this time, to get the horses out of their bug misery.

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
walkinthewalk is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Icelandic mare with itchy, scabby tail dock Hippopodame Horse Health 6 12-16-2012 08:01 PM
Itchy and scabby neck - sweet itch? xxJustJumpItxx Horse Health 23 09-05-2012 09:39 PM
Itchy, itchy Horse Littlebit722 Horse Health 10 05-27-2012 03:48 PM
Itchy, Itchy horse TheRoughrider21 Horse Grooming 5 01-04-2011 09:33 PM
my horse has an itchy rash need advice barrelgrl Horse Health 4 07-25-2008 08:25 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome