Pastern Dermatitis by Dr. Tena Boyd
Pastern dermatitis is a condition that can occur year round but is often worse during summer months. This is a very common and inconvenient problem in our area and many remedies are marketed.
- · The mild form (scratches, mud fever, mud rash is the mildest and most prevalent. This form is characterized by hair loss, dry scales, and crusts; may be “itchy” and/or painful.
- · The exudative form (grease heel, dew poisoning) is more serious characterized by very inflamed skin, hair loss, and heavier crusting. More aggressive treatment is required
- · The hind-limbs are affected more commonly than forelimbs and white or non-pigmented skin more than dark skin
- · The affected skin is often suffering from a mixed infection of bacteria, fungal organisms, and possibly even insect or mite infestation
- · Photosensitization may be a cause or contributing factor in more severe conditions
- · The most common agent we see is exposure to clover pasture; affects both the muzzle and lower limbs
- · Other agents implicated are St. John’s Wart, buckwheat, and perennial rye grass
- · A veterinary examination can lead to the most targeted treatment. Bacterial and/or fungal cultures, skin scrapings or biopsy may assist in diagnosis. Treatment:
· Wash off the offensive agents from the skin after contact, such as when brought in from turnout or from exercise where the lower limbs are in contact with grass
· Medicated shampoos that have a broad spectrum of activity are most effective but even a sudsing non-medicated shampoo is helpful
· Keeping the legs dry for several hours per day following elimination of the offensive agents is key
· Topical treatments that decrease the scales and help heal the skin
· Systemic antibiotics for stubborn infections or those that lead to cellulitis, fever, or lameness
· Recently we have seen a few products that act as “socks” for horses and have been very effective in assisting treatment.
Another Summertime Blue, Sunburned Skin
Sunshine is often considered therapeutic for the body and spirit! Some of our favorite equine friends may have a different view. For those white-faced breeds with no pigment or pink skin, prolonged exposure to sun can create several uncomfortable conditions. As the skin becomes inflamed from this delicate skin “burning”, it is very susceptible to changes that can lead to a skin cancer, Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC).
To protect these horses, fly masks can be worn by these horses year-round whenever it is sunny out. Those with nose shields will also protect the muzzle of these sensitive horses. As discussed previously, agents that can cause photo-sensitivity such as clover pasture, can exacerbate this condition. Another helpful protection, is to apply children’s waterproof sunscreen to the faces and around the eyes of these horses. If your horse shows any of the conditions seen in these photographs, please call for an appointment.