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What is Itchy Skin?
A horse with severely itchy skin will try to alleviate the itch at all costs. You may notice your horse rubbing against fences, hedges or bushes. It is very frustrating for your horse, as the skin is the largest organ, and covers the surface area of your horse’s body.
What Causes Itchy Skin?
There are many causes of overly itchy skin, but the main causes are:
- Parasitic infestation (mange, mites or rain rot)
- Skin diseases and conditions ( Eczema, allergies, Mange, dry skin, Dandruff)
- Poor diet
Note: Some more serious conditions may be underlying itchy skin. It is important to consult with your vet if you notice drastic changes in your horse’s coat. Excessive rubbing may lead to raw skin, or open wounds, which are then susceptible to infection.
Help for Itchy Skin
For a diagnosis, skin scrapings are useful in many cases, enabling the vet to check for lice and other skin parasites, such as mange mites. Skin samples can also be used to check for bacterial, yeast and fungal infections.
Treatment for itchy skin may include supplementing feeds, or topically applying medicated lotions. Keep in mind that medicated lotions may cause further discomfort (stinging) or may only make sensitive skin worse. Never apply human topical creams to your horse’s coat without consulting with your vet first. If parasitic infection is the cause, treatment will involve ridding your horse of the mites or parasites.
Flies may also irritate the skin – and lead to itchiness, so try to use a fly repellent that will not harm your horse. Steroids are often successfully used to combat the irritation; however these can come with side effects. Antihistamines can cause drowsiness and should be used with caution.
More Information on Itchy Skin
Tips related to equine itching
- Do not over-bathe your horse – this will strip the coat of healthy oils, and lead to dull coats and possibly severe itching.
- Poor coat condition and itchiness can also be caused by a poor diet and allergies to food. Make sure your horse gets the proper amounts of vitamins, minerals, and especially fat in the diet – or it will likely show in the horse’s coat. Limit certain foods to determine the intolerance.
- Cold water hosing and ice packs applied to a horses itching areas can also provide relief