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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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The best treatment I’ve 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.
 

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The best treatment I’ve 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.
 
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