Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Multiple Sores, Crusts, or Scabs on Skin, Anywhere on Body

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 a skin lesion is larger, growing or causing pain or itchiness.
  • If the problem seems severe, or involves a large area.

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

  • If a skin lesion is small, not itchy and changing slowly or not at all.
  • If the problem seems very mild and limited to a small area.

Sores, scabbing or crusting of the skin can result from a variety of disease processes including bacterial or fungal infection, infected wounds, contact irritation and allergy, insects, immune mediated disease, trauma (including a bite from another horse) and a variety of less common conditions.

These cases range greatly in severity. They can be mild and self-resolve with no treatment, they can spread and become increasingly difficult to treat, or they can cause secondary injuries if a horse tries to itch or bite the affected area. Some are painful, some are not.

WHAT TO DO

Keep in mind that these sorts of skin conditions can be contagious. Be careful not to spread infection to other horses. Depending on severity and location of the condition, you may treat the crusts symptomatically by gently removing crusts or debris with your fingers or a stiff brush, and cleaning the affected area with gentle antiseptic shampoo.

If this is not possible, if the condition worsens or spreads or if your horse is showing any other sign of illness or disease, contact your vet to discuss your findings and concerns. Discuss with your vet whether anything has recently changed in your horse’s environment, particularly anything that may have come into contact with your horse’s skin or coat – a new blanket, new shampoo, etc. As with many skin conditions, it is helpful to know if the condition is itchy or causing your horse irritation.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet may advise you to continue to provide symptomatic treatment and monitor your horse. Alternatively, your vet may seek to definitively identify the cause, and suggest an examination of the horse with or without other diagnostics.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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