With spring time rapidly approaching, it will soon be the season for skin problems with your horse. Veterinarians like to call it Pastern Dermatitis, but you might call it mud fever, rain rot, scratches or even greasy heel.
“Scratches” is a general term that describes a skin condition on the lower legs of horses. While the initial infection is by a fungus, it can be also complicated by the presence of bacteria. The initial signs of scratches are a crusty area or open sores on your horse’s pastern, heel and/or fetlocks. There is often swelling and lameness in the infected area or leg. The crusts are caused by blood/serum seeping through the skin in the area of the infection.
While horse’s with white leg markings are more susceptible to scratches because unpigmented skin is not as tough and can more easily get scraped, which in turn allows for the infection; any horse can become infected.
Once a pasture or turn out area is infected with the fungus, the fungus will remain there indefinitely. Scratches can also infect a horse during dry periods when the fungus can get moved around by wind.
The best treatment is always prevention. Horse’s legs should be washed down and dried before being returned back to the stall. If your horse does become infected, the quicker you start a treatment for the fungus, the sooner you horse will recover.
dmso dimethylsulfoxide health benefits
Mix one part Nitrofurazone ointment such as Fura-zone, one part dewormer paste containing fenbendazole or any of the other benizmidazoles such as Safe-Guardand and one part DMSO (dimethyl suloxide).
Nitrofurazone will help with the secondary infections caused by any bacteria and act as a buffer with DMSO to keep from irritating your horse’s skin. The dewormer paste will kill the fungus.
This mixture can be mixed up each day or enough can be mixed for several days. Because DMSO is readily absorbed through the skin, wearing gloves (not latex) is advised. If applied daily this treatment should clear up the scratches faster than most other traditional treatments. Remember that moisture needs to be reduced in any treatment for scratches; this is why bandaging the infected area is not recommended.
The next time you visit your tack and feed store, pickup:
- DMSO – Medical grade
- Rubber gloves
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