What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


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

  • 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.

your role


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 Not To Do

Do not share tack or equipment between horses with undiagnosed skin problems. Some conditions are contagious and can be spread this way.

your vet's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • Are other horses affected?
  • Do you notice skin lesions elsewhere?
  • Do you use the same saddle on other horses?
  • Are you seeing itchiness (rubbing or scratching)?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Can you send me a photo?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP