Some Common Horse Diseases of the Skin

Some diseases of the skin which are common in horses are as follows:

Ringworm

This is characterised by small rounded patches of hair loss that gradually increase with size then scab. The most common areas to be effected are the head, base of the tail, neck and girth areas. The common species responsible for this infection is Trichophyton or microsporum. Direct contact with other infected livestock, horses and equipment that has been in contact with infected areas is the most common way this infection is transferred.

Mud Fever

This is characterised by the oozing and scab formation of skin, often with resulting hair loss. It is not irritated but is sensitive to the touch and results in lameness when it effects the fetlock, pastern and bulb of the heel. It is an infection with a bacterium called Dermatophilus congolensis. Continuous wet weather, mud, damp conditions and lots of feathers are all contributory factors to this condition when the legs do not get the change to dry thoroughly.

Sweet Itch

Scaling and crusting of the skin usually around the mane, withers, tail and head are the most common symptoms. The horse then rubs the affected areas that are now itchy with irritation causing the skin to thicken and wrinkle. This then further contributes to the condition. It is usually caused by a seasonal allergic reaction to the saliva of the midges that bite them. It can affect all types of equines but ponies are particularly prone to the condition.

Sarcoids

These are common skin tumors that may be verrucous (dry and often cauliflower-like) or fibroblastic (with hard fibrous nodules), or a mixture of both.

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