Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Hair Loss on Head or Face

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 the problem seems very mild and limited to a small area.
  • If you have tried treating symptomatically and there is still a problem.

Hair loss on the head or face can result from a variety of causes. The location of hair loss may provide a clue as to the condition causing it. Possible causes include trauma, fungal infections (ringworm), bacterial infections, parasitic infestation (both external and internal) and allergic causes, among many others.

Sometimes the hair falls out on its own, other times hair loss results from rubbing or scratching an itchy area.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Carefully examine the areas of hair loss looking for external parasites and skin conditions. Note whether the underlying skin is scaly, scabby, red or inflamed, and contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

When in doubt, treat the problem as potentially contagious to your other horses until your vet advises otherwise.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Certain conditions are more commonly seen on the head or face than other areas. Your vet uses a dermatologic exam, and may also recommend certain diagnostics to reach a diagnosis.

In some cases, vets treat skin conditions without reaching a definitive diagnosis. If the signs disappear, we may assume that the condition was resolved with treatment. If it does not, we may need to perform additional diagnostics and adjust the treatment plan.

What Not To Do

Do not use harsh chemicals on horse skin (strong iodine, undiluted bleach). Harsh does not equate with effective.

When treating skin conditions of the face, be sure not to get irritating antiseptic solutions into the eyes.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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