Horse health: Dermatitis treatment(Dermatitis) Scratches


Dermatitis, also known as mud fever, greasy heel, dew poisoning, or scratches affects the backs of the pasterns and the bulbs of the heels and is most commonly found in horses who are exposed to moisture for long periods of time, whether from standing in a muddy field or a wet stall. Constant moisture can become an irritant as it penetrates delicate skin causing inflammation, redness, and ulcerations, and when coupled with dirty surroundings, an ideal situation for infection to become almost inevitable.


Speed is of the essence when tending to Dermatitis even though the raw, broken, or bleeding skin is not considered to be where the infection lies. The culprits, bacteria, fungus, parasites, and allergies can appear singularly or in combination as they find easy entry into already compromised tissues making diagnosis difficult and treatment a potentially hit or miss affair.

Consult your veterinarian who may want to take skin samples to more accurately determine the appropriate course of action before you embark on a plan that possibly could delay or even cause complications to the healing process. Note: opportunistic in nature, these microorganisms quickly multiply often escalating the situation, so if the leg or legs should become hot and swollen, it is a sure sign that the infection has become serious, in which case you may need to get a prescription for antibiotics.

Regardless of the cause, there are several steps that should be taken when dealing
with Dermatitis. Start by clipping the long hair from that portion of affected skin in order to keep it clean and dry.

Next, wash the area thoroughly but gently with warm water. Make sure to remove dirt but be careful not to aggravate the skin. Then, follow by lightly towel drying the area. Be careful not to use harsh shampoos or iodine based medications as they can be too abrasive, and limit your washing sessions to only once a day as additional moisture could further inflame already tender tissue.

Also, try to keep your horse out of muddy or wet places and make sure that his bedding is clean and dry.


In the future, avoid hosing your horse’s fetlocks and pasterns unless you have a specific reason, and always make sure to completely dry the area afterward.

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