Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Crusts, Scabs or Hair Loss on Chest

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.

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

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

The skin overlying the pectoral muscles of the chest is an area commonly affected by a variety of skin related conditions that can cause hair loss, crusting, peeling and scabbing.

Crusts and scabs in this area are commonly associated with fly irritation, traumatic injuries, tumors or infections. This is also an area that horses tend to rub, itch and bite at. They can make a condition worse with self-trauma. A notable infection that takes many forms but tends to affect the chest area is Pigeon Fever. The good news is that this area tends to be fairly easy to treat.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) and assess the affected area carefully, noting whether there is swelling, heat or drainage. Since some potential diagnoses are contagious, it is wise to wear gloves.

You may choose to treat skin lesions here symptomatically, and antiseptic shampoos may be a good choice. If flies are present, use a non-irritating fly repellent to keep flies off.

However contact your vet if there is no improvement, if the problem seems serious, or if you find any other abnormalities. You may also send your vet a photo of the affected area.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet is familiar with the skin conditions that tend to affect different regions of the horse’s body. This helps them to differentiate them. They may use other diagnostics as needed, or advise you to treat symptomatically for a time to see if the signs disappear.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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