Horse Skin Disease

Horse Skin Disease: Cause and Treatment

During a horse lifetime, it is not unusual to have some horse skin disease or caused sensitive spots. These skin problems can be caused due to fungal infection, bacteria, allergic, an insect bite, or even sunburn.

Sometimes small bumps develop into large problems if you ignore to treat them. To treat such conditions effectively, Robin tries to know about horse skin diseases very well.

Horse skin diseases

Though these skin issues are entirely different, they look similar to Robin. He also knows that applying the wrong ointment without knowing for sure can do more harm than good too.

Itchy Skin Condition in Horses

The itchy skin condition in horses is also called sweet itch. It is known as ‘Pruritus’ in technical terms. This is an unpleasant condition for a horse caused by allergies, infection, or ectoparasites. Ectoparasites are causing itchy skin by biting a horse.

Itchy skin conditions in horses make them scratch and rub their skin. Sometimes it is so bad that they can do severe damage to themselves as well as to their surrounding environment. Itches spread from a smaller number to a large critical amount with time.

Loss of tail and mane hair, bald patches, broken or damaged skin are signs of itchy conditions in a horse.

Bacterial Skin Infection in Horses

Bacterial skin infection is common in horses. It is the bacterial agents that cause this disease. It can be transmitted through insect bites, in feed, shared immune system, etc. Bacterias seek for opportunities.

Whenever they find out that the skin barrier is compromised, they attack the skin of the victim. The most common bacterial infection in horses is Staphylococcus bacteria. Other bacterias can cause disease when there is moisture in the weather.

It is essential to monitor the horses because once the bacterial agents invade the skin, the horses can have troubles like itchy skin, inflammation, growth, lesions. When the infection reaches a severe stage, an increased heart rate is seen in horses.

Seborrhea in Horses

Seborrhea in horses appears in two forms. It is either dry or oily.  In the case of dry seborrhea, skin dries out and looks at the base of tail or mane. Oily seborrhea causes waxy crusts to appear often on the elbow or in lower legs.

However, seborrhea doesn’t cause any pain for horses. It is more like dandruff in horse skin. There are two types of seborrhea. One is primary, and the other is secondary. Both of these can be either oily or dry.

They are almost similar, but the main difference is, secondary seborrhea happens to horses that have not previously faced the condition. Secondary seborrhea can turn into serious illness. It can cause liver or intestinal disease.

Eight common equine skin diseases

Here are eight common equine skin diseases of the horse:

1. Rain rot or rain scald:

Appearance: Rough crusts that type raised bumps with upright tufts of matted hair. The crusts type on elements of the body that are inveterately damp, often on the top line. Wherever rain runs off down the barrel, shoulders or hindquarters, feat little, spherical blank spots; pus can also be seen underneath freshly sloughed scabs.

Causes: Rainrot may be a microorganism infection. The inductive organism, Dermatophilus congolensis, will reside on the skin while not inflicting bother.

Treatment: initial take away the horse from wet conditions and place him in an exceeding system wherever his coat will dry out completely.

Prevention: Give dry areas that turned-out horses will go back to in wet weather and keep your dispute shed’s roof in excellent condition. Waterproof blankets and light-weight sheets can even keep pastured horses dry.

2. fungal infection (fungal dermatitis)

Appearance: Rounded bald-pated patches with crusty, rough skin. The affected areas could also be sore or fretful; however, they typically cause no discomfort, and therefore the horse might seem otherwise healthy.

Causes: Despite the name, a fungal infection may be a mycosis, which might be caused by many organisms, typically members of the genus Trichophyton or fungus genus families.

Treatment: If you think fungal infection, directly isolate the affected horse from all different animals, together with cats and dogs, similarly as a different eutherian mammal. Clipping the hair around the lesions and removing scabs and crusty material the maximum amount as you’ll be able to while not inflicting the horse pain can scale back the organisms’ food supply.

Prevention: Keep separate tack, instrumentation, and grooming provides for each horse in your care, and don’t share with others at shows or events. Use an influence washer to urge disinfectant into all the crevices.

3. Warts (papillomas):

Appearance: Raised grey or pink cauliflower-like growths that are typically reasonably little, not abundant larger than peas. They will seem one by one or in clusters, most ordinarily on the muzzle or around the eyes.

Causes: They are caused by the equine papillomavirus, Associate in Nursing organism, which will survive on skin, instrumentation, and structures for weeks.

Treatment: Let alone, warts usually shrink and disappear, feat no scars, for concerning four months because the young horse’s system develops.

Prevention: Isolate affected horses from others, particularly younger ones. Clean any shared tack or instrumentation.

4. Aural plaques (papillary neoplasm, ear papillomas)

Appearance: Flat, crusty, raised white lesions within the ears; beneath, the skin could also be pink and sensitive.

Causes: Aural plaques are caused by Associate in Nursing equine papillomavirus that’s thought to be unfolded by biting flies, like the blackfly, that focus on the ears. The plaques might seem in horses of any age or breed.

Treatment: If the plaques are inflicting ear sensitivity, your doctor might dictate the course of treatment with a topical cream containing imiquimod, a drug that stimulates a localized reaction within the ear and helps diminish the lesions.

Prevention: Take precautions to shield your horse against biting flies, particularly blackflies.

5. Primary skin disease (dandruff)

Appearance: Skin disease may be dry or oily. Within the dry type, little flakes of skin seem constant, typically at the bottom of the mane and tail, and sand-like flecks might look on the girth space or anyplace sweat accumulates.

Causes: Heredity plays a significant role in cases of primary skin disease, and it’s additional common in Arabians and Thoroughbreds. In affected people, dandruff is probably going to be a long issue.

Treatment: Primary skin disease isn’t curable; however, it may be managed. A variety of antidandruff shampoos are obtainable that, once used as directed, will dissolve flakes and loosen oily scales. It is best to settle on merchandise developed to be used on horses.

Prevention: Regular grooming stimulates circulation and natural boring that facilitate keep the skin healthy and clean. Feeding vegetable oils, particularly omega-3 fatty acid fatty acids and supplements that contain B vitamins, can also promote more youthful skin.

6. leukocyte neoplasm with scleroprotein degeneration:

Appearance: Distinct, firm nodules concerning the dimensions of a dime or smaller, found typically within the neck, back, and withers. The skin higher than is traditional, with no hair loss, and therefore the nodules don’t contain pus.

Causes: It is caused by the breakdown of scleroprotein, the macromolecule that forms the structure of animal tissue, within the middle layer of the skin.

Treatment: Your doctor will inject corticosteroids into the nodules to shrink them.

Prevention: Take measures to shield your horse from biting flies, together with the utilization of fly sprays and turnout sheets. If your horse has developed nodules at injection sites, raise your doctor to use non-coated needles for future injections.

7. Mange:

Appearance: Little, spherical bumps initially, shortly followed by bald spots.

Causes: animal disease may be a parasitic infection caused by many species of little mites, which will barely be seen by the oculus.

Treatment: The variety of topical antiparasitic merchandise may be effective against disease.  Merchandise might be applied by spraying, sponging, or dipping the leg.

Prevention: Mites typically are passed directly from horse to horse, therefore don’t permit your horse to possess contact with others at shows or events and quarantine newcomers on your farm, particularly if they need visible bald areas that seem to be fretful.

8. Lice (pediculosis)

Appearance: Hair loss from rubbing, typically showing initial on the shoulders and neck.

Causes: 2 styles of these parasitic insects infect horses: chew lice (Damalinia equi) take advantage of sloughed-off dead skin cells.

Treatment: many styles of products—permethrin sprays and wipe-ons, insecticidal powders, and shampoos—are effective against lice.

Equine skin diseases and conditions

Here are some usually encountered equine skin diseases and conditions seen in horses.

Dermatophytosis (ringworm)

Ringworm typically manifests as a crusting skin problem with hair loss and circular lesions on the body. Christine Rees, DVM, DACVD, of metropolis Veterinary Specialists in the metropolis, Texas, says its ordinarily seen during a stressed animal or in one whose system is slightly compromised, creating it a lot of common in older or younger horses.

If house owners don’t desire to shampoo their horses 2 to a few times every week, they’ll additionally use a lime-sulfur dip. However, it’s a reasonably pungent, rotten egg-like odor; this treatment is extremely effective against the plant(and bacterium and parasites) at a better concentration. A dilute bleach-solution rinse is an associate degree alternate treatment possibility.

Staphylococcus aureus infection

Staphylococcus aureus infection will manifest in horses as heat, painful skin, with focal crusts most typically noted within the bone region, although similar lesions could occur elsewhere on the skin.

Though MRSA is a lot of usually seen in horses, it’s not as common as in dogs and cats. The thanks to making sure the diagnosing is by activity a culture.

Insect bite hypersensitivity

Insect bite hypersensitivity, caused by flies and alternative insects. Maybe a significant reason behind hypersensitivity reaction in horses. Some fly species (black flies, deer flies, horse flies) turn out this condition.

Environmental allergies

Atopic eczema and environmental allergies to mud, molds, spore, and poor-quality fodder are quite common equine allergic responses. Hives are common and might gift anyplace on the body however are generally found on the face, neck, chest, and higher legs.

Another thought is allergic dermatitis that happens once irritating substances, like fly sprays, shampoos,  or alternative substances, acquire direct contact with the skin of susceptible horses. Signs could embrace delicate redness, flaky and fidgety skin, severe hair loss, skin thickening, pain, and sometimes skin shedding.

Common skin cancers: epithelial cell cancer and malignant melanoma

Squamous cell cancer may be a metastatic tumor of the outermost layer of the skin. It’s typified by reddened, rough, or ulcerous skin and is related to exposure to the Sun in horses (unlike melanoma).

With malignant melanoma, surgical removal is that the best variety of treatment, Rees says. Some breeds, like Appaloosas, get these tumors at the tail and that they tend to be benign. Alternative lesions ar are domestically aggressive.

Miscellaneous skin diseases

Pseudomonas species infection. “I usually see horses that have hair loss and ar fidgety,” says Rees-infections ar a priority in these cases. “I had one horse with pseudomonas species infection was obtaining at bay within the synthetic rubber of the saddle pad blanket.

Flora infections.: Sometimes we tend to see expedient mycosissonce; a horse gets a tiny low puncture wound with resultant localized flora infection.

Dermatophilosis: Rees says dermatophilosis, or rain rot, happens if a horse has been entering the rain oft throughout a very time of year. Additionally called rain scald or mud fever, dermatophilosis may be a microorganism infection aggravated by prolonged exposure to wetness, including lacerate skin.

Photosensitization: This condition is associated degree abnormal inflammatory skin reaction to the Sun’s ultraviolet rays that happens in areas of white hair or pink skin

Horse Fungus Treatment

The fungus can attack any part of a horse’s body if the treatment is not done within a short period of fungus attack, that particular body part of a horse may be infected severely.

However, for treating the affected area, it is suggested not to try and remove fungus barehanded and without proper guidance. It may leave the skin raw and cause further infection. There is a fungus spray named “Banixx.” It works well and should be used in the affected area.

Banixx should be used 2 or 3 times a day. If the fungus attack causes the horse to lose hair, then it might be used for a longer period of time because it takes time to grow new hair. However, if you use Banixx by massaging in the affected area, my suggestion would be to use gloves. Banixx can be found in any local or online store.

Crusty Scabs on Horse’s Legs

Crusty scabs on horse’s legs are also known as Rain rot. Bacteria cause it. So it is a bacterial infection. But most people mistake it with fungal disease. Bacteria affect the outer layer of the horse’s skin and cause crusty scabs.

This can happen to a horse when there is prolonged wetness, high temperature, or attacks of biting insects. Again high humidity and temperature cause the number of attacks of biting insects that can lead to crusty scabs.

Biting of insects ensures that the bacterial infection passes from one horse to another. This condition can get worse if the treatment is not done at the early stage of a horse being affected.

Diagnosing Equine Skin conditions

Diagnosis of equine skin conditions requires a proper and detailed history, physical examination. Many conditions look similar, while they may affect differently in the long run. A detailed history and diagnosis test are necessary to identify such things.

These tests include microscopic analysis of fallen skin, hair, blood, urine, etc. It’s more about identifying the exact disease through symptoms and medical tests. It helps the veterinarian to suggest the correct treatment for any disease which is found.

Things that the owner must know for the treatment are 1. For how long the horse is affected, 2. At what age the horse is affected, 3. What common signs are shown by the horse?

Dr. Rosanna Marsella, a veterinary dermatologist at the University of Florida, said “Like people and other species, Horses always walk around with bacteria on their skin,”

The problem is when there is damage or environmental factors that weaken protective elements and the health of the skin. “Many times, there is an injury to the skin, and then the infection is secondary,” said Dr. Marsella.

Horse skin conditions on legs:

Finding bump, lump, or bald spot on horse skin shows signs of skin condition very well. Many horse skin diseases can be treated by our own. Besides, some skin conditions caused due to the underlying problem. This skin condition requires expert medical attention, as well.

Some most common horse skin conditions can easily recognize by using some trick yet.  Some most common horse conditions are- Rain Rot, Sweet itch, Ringworm, Dandruff, Warts, Alopecia, Ringworm, Sunburn, Hives, Warts &Sarcoids, Mange, Lice. These skin conditions mostly get found near lower legs. If you can’t identify the problem, then it is recommended to ask a veterinarian for help.


#What is the skin of a horse called?

The outer skin of animals is generally called Epidermis.  So, in scientific terms, the skin of a horse would be called the Epidermis, or simply dermis (meaning: skin). In general terms, it is called a coat or a hide.

#2. How do you treat fungus on horses?

To treat a fungal infection in your horse, you first need to identify what type of fungus it has been attacked by. But some standard practices in managing a fungal infection are keeping the infected horse dry, using anti-microbial or anti-fungal shampoo, disinfectants or ointment. Please don’t use any medicine on your horse without consulting a vet first.

#3. What causes dermatitis in horses?

Dermatitis or skin inflammation is widespread in horses. It can be caused by an allergy or an infection that is fungal or bacterial. Many things can spark inflammation in horses; some of the factors being insect bites (including lice), worm infestation (e.g., pinworms), hypersensitivity from food or drugs, or coming in contact with substances that may trigger an allergic reaction in the horse.

Inflammation can also occur due to microbial infection, which may be algal in nature rather than fungal or bacterial.

#4. What can cause hair loss in horses?

Alopecia, or hair loss can occur in horses for numerous reasons. It can be due to itching, bites from lice, insects or mites, infestation by fungi, or parasites. Alopecia can also result from poor hygiene conditions of the horse; when its living conditions or the horse itself is kept dirty. Some other causes may include the side effects of certain drugs, cancer, or toxicity.

#5. What is the rarest color of the horse?

Horse coats can be of various colors; some words have been specifically designed to denote their stunning and diverse colors. There are several shades and sub-shades in coat color, one of the rarest colors being pure white. Horses with a pure white coat have a high death rate, so it makes them uncommon.

Another unusual coat color is the exact opposite of pure white, that is, black.  Some other rare colors are buckskin, brindle, leopard, silver dapple, etc.

#6. How do I prevent my horse from getting sunburned?

Horses with lighter skin colors (e.g., pintos, cremello) and white patches get sunburned more easily. This can cause various complications in horses afterward. To protect your horse from the harsh sun rays, you can adopt the following methods:

Apply sunscreen: To protect your horse’s skin, you can apply sunscreen on its hairless parts. You can apply a sunscreen specified for horses or regular sunscreen. But read out the instruction manual carefully before using it on your horse, so that you can avoid any instances of irritation.

Use Sun shields: Horse masks designed to prevent UV-rays from reaching can be a savior for your horse. Also, other protective clothing like horse boots, sheets, and wraps can save your horse from burning its skin.

Use shades: The longer you keep your horse out in the Sun, the higher the chances are of it to get sunburns. So, make good use of the shades available around your environment and keep it under covered places when the daylight is intense. You can keep it in a stable or under the cool shade of a tree whenever Sun comes over the head.

#7. Do cremello horses sunburn?

Horses that have a lighter skin color and those that have white patches on the skin get sunburned easily. A cremello horse is a light-colored horse so that it can get sunburned too. For preventing such a condition, it is better to use sunscreen on the bald areas of the horse or to cover it with protective clothing before riding.

#8. Can a horse get sunburned?

Yes, horses can get sunburned, just like humans. The less pigmented skin of a horse is more prone to getting sunburn. That’s why horses with lighter skin colors or mixed colors that have less pigmented patches on them are more likely to get burnt. To prevent burns, avoid direct and intense sunlight from hitting your horse; in that sense, it is better to avoid peak daylight hours for riding.


From dandruff to rain rot, a horse owner can face any typical horse skin conditions with his horse yet. Besides, more or less hair loss and itchy are commonly seen with horses also. So it is essential to keep your eyes out for these possible skin conditions yet. In short, skin diseases in horses are some commonly seen conditions in a horse stable. Only proper guide and treatment will help you to head it out such skin conditions effectively.

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