By Allison Armstrong Rehnborg

From scratches to rain rot to sweet itch, managing skin conditions in horses can be a headache for horse owners. Some skin conditions are related to insect bites, while others are caused by bacteria and fungus, but all of them have at least one thing in common: they can make your horse uncomfortable in a hurry. Plus, contagious bacterial and fungal infections such as rain rot or ringworm can spread quickly through a whole herd, especially if all the horses are pastured together or share the same tack and equipment. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for horse owners to stop skin conditions at the start. Whether you own one horse or several, follow these best practices for preventing and containing skin conditions in your herd.

Identify the disease.

There are many skin conditions that can affect horses, and some of them may look

similar to each other. Knowing what you’re dealing with and whether it’s bacterial, fungal or insect-related can help you determine prevention and treatment. If you encounter a skin condition on your horse, call your veterinarian for a diagnosis, but you should also brush up on all the common skin conditions so that you can recognize them when you see them.

Isolate and disinfect.

If you notice something strange on one horse’s skin, act quickly and isolate that
horse from the others until you can ask your veterinarian. It’s better to be safe than sorry. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to disinfect that horse’s grooming tote or other tack and equipment. You can wash saddle pads in hot water and use a dilute bleach solution to clean brushes. Dip the brushes in the solution, rinse well and allow to air dry. On that note, it’s important for every horse to have its own set of tack and brushes. Don’t share equipment between horses, and always wash your hands in between grooming or handling different horses.

If you are dealing with a contagious skin problem, consider deep cleaning your horse’s stall multiple times throughout the treatment cycle with Draw It Out SuperClean Stall Cleaner. SuperClean Stall Cleaner uses a bio-enzymatic formula combined with natural orange oils to break down organic material as it cleans, deodorizes and degreases. It’s organic, easy to use and the 32-ounce bottle does the diluting for you.

Use effective fly and insect repellent.

Many skin conditions either start because of insect bites (such as
sweet itch, which is an allergic reaction to the bites of no-see-ums) or can be made worse by insect bites. For example, rain rot is a common bacterial skin disease caused by Dermatophilus congolensis. If your horse’s skin is broken by an insect bite, this bacterium can enter the skin and set up housekeeping. Rain rot lesions are also precipitated by moisture, which is why they typically occur along the horse’s topline. Use an effective fly and insect repellent to help protect your horse from insect bites and keep his skin comfortable and healthy. If the flies are particularly bad in your area, consider adding fly masks and fly sheets to your summer routine. Make sure to remove your horse’s fly gear at least once a day to check for chafing, blanket rubs and skin problems.

Stock up on the right products.

Keep anti-fungal or anti-bacterial shampoos on hand for your horses,
plus add Draw It Out Rapid Relief Restorative Cream for Horses to your first aid kit. Rapid Relief cream helps irritated skin, so it’s perfect for relieving any fungal or bacterial infection. Specially formulated with zinc oxide, zinc pyrithione and aloe vera extract, Rapid Relief cream soothes irritation, redness and inflammation from skin abrasions and expedites healing by forming a
moisturizing protective barrier on the horse’s skin. It’s great for daily care and safe to use on all livestock. Rapid Relief cream can help soothe irritated skin related to sweet itch, mange, scratches, ringworm, rain rot, rashes, cannon crud and more, so it’s the perfect multi-use cream to keep in your kit for skin conditions.