Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Hair Loss, Flaking, Peeling, or Sores, Girth Area

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you have tried treating symptomatically and there is still a problem.
  • If the problem seems severe, or involves a large area.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If the problem seems very mild and limited to a small area.

Hair loss in the girth area can result from direct trauma, or girth or cinch rubs or sores. Fungal and bacterial infections (girth itch) also commonly occurs in this area. Some of these skin infections are contagious to other horses and rarely, to humans.

WHAT TO DO

Examine the area carefully and pay particular attention to the appearance of the affected skin area and the surrounding skin. Look for flakiness, reddening, swelling and scabbing. Take a photo. Contrast flaky skin with hair that will pull out around the peripheries, to clean, sharp edges of hair loss typical of traumatic injuries.

Check for areas of hair loss elsewhere, especially in the same area on the opposite side of the horse. Get underneath the horse with good light and look up at the skin of the underline. Feel the entire region with your fingertips. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

Many horse owners treat areas of hair loss here with an antiseptic shampoo (and careful rinsing and drying) over several days. Many cases of hair loss in this region improve with rest and antiseptic shampoo treatment.

As a precaution, consider any areas of hair loss here contagious to other horses Be sure to disinfect tack and equipment that has been in contact with horses suspected of having bacterial or fungal conditions. Wash your hands carefully (with disinfectant soap) before touching other horses.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet can help determine whether this problem is traumatic or infectious in origin. Treatment may vary depending upon their diagnosis. Vets may have prescription medications that are useful in treating more stubborn infections. A definitive diagnosis may require biopsy or culture.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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