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


Hair Loss, Skin Irritation Under Belly


Hair loss on the belly often occurs as a result of self-trauma due to itching. In other cases, the disease process itself causes hair to drop out.

The most common reason for hair loss or patches of irritated skin on the belly is seasonal insect irritation or allergies. In this case, the skin is usually flaky or crusty. Other common causes include summer sores (Habronemiasis), equine sarcoids.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If a skin lesion is larger, growing or causing pain or itchiness.
    • If there is swelling and pain associated with this problem.
  • 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.

your role


What To Do

Assess the area. Keep flies away from the area using fly repellent ointments. Monitor the condition over time. If it persists or worsens, or if it appears to cause the horse any pain, discomfort or itchiness, contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

your vet's role

In most cases, the appearance and history of an area of hair loss on the belly gives your vet clues as to the diagnosis. If needed, definitive diagnosis may require skin biopsy.

In many cases, vets treat simple hair loss and skin conditions symptomatically. If they disappear, then we make assumptions about the diagnosis.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Can you expand the affected area by picking hairs or crusts on the edges?
  • Can you detect swelling or heat in the area?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Does pressure on the area seem to cause the horse pain or discomfort?
  • Are there noticeable skin lesions, crusts or scabs in the area?
  • Are there multiple affected areas?
  • Are flies bothering the area?
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • Are the affected areas white haired/pink skinned or dark?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP