Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Skin Diseases: Ringworm and Rain Rot

A healthy horse has a smooth, shiny coat. A rough, dull, or patchy coat is a sign of underlying health problems. A horse’s skin is constantly under attack by a wide variety of viruses, bacteria, and biting insects. Symptoms of skin diseases can range from a simple, isolated skin lesion to generalized itching and hair loss over the entire body. Two of the most common varieties of skin diseases are ringworm, also called dermatophytosis, and rain rot, which is also known as dermatophilosis.

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus that spreads between horses thorough the use of common grooming tools, saddle pads, or harnesses. Also, damp, dark, and crowded conditions (such as horses confined to their stable during the winter and fall) can predispose horses to contracting ringworm.

Ringworm is most common in horses under three years of age, and older or debilitated animals. It initially presents as small, circular patches of hair loss with scabbed or flaky skin beneath. If left untreated, these circular lesions will grow into large, irregular areas of broken hairs and blisters with scabs. These areas are susceptible to secondary skin infections. The lesions are most typically seen around the girth and saddle areas, on the face and around the eyes, and on the legs. Sometimes the lesions are extremely itchy. It is also very contagious, spreading between horses and even from horses to humans.

If ringworm is suspected, treatment should start right away. The infected horse should be isolated from others, and all tack and grooming equipment should be disinfected. This can be done with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Also, a shampoo medicated with miconazole should be used daily on the horse for five days, and then weekly until all the lesions are fully healed.

Rain Rot
Rain rot is an irritating skin condition, also known as rain scald, or dew poisoning if seen on the lower limbs, it is caused by a bacterium with fungal characteristics. The bacteria live in the soil and generally cause infections during periods of prolonged wet weather, hence the name. It is contagious and can be spread to other horses by infected animals. Other contributing factors are poor stable hygiene and skin irritation caused by insect bites.

Horses with rain rot generally present with a series of small bumps down their backs. The lesions progress to form circular scabs and matted tufts of hair. Removal of these mats is painful and can cause raw, bleeding, irritated areas. Veterinarians sometimes call these circular tufts “paintbrush lesions.” These are generally seen on the back, rump, neck and legs. Animals that have rain rot should be kept dry and protected from biting insects. 

Silverquine can be used to treat both of these uncomfortable skin conditions.

Source: Horses and Horse Information

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