You are here: Horses > Horse health > Equine Ringworm & Rain rot

Controlling Horse Ringworm and Rain Rot Skin Diseases

One good indicator of a horse’s general physical condition is the state of its coat. A horse with a smooth, shiny coat is usually in good health, while a rough, dull, or patchy coat is a sign of underlying health problems.
A horse’s skin is constantly under attack by a wide variety of viruses, bacteria, and biting insects. Symptoms of skin diseases can range from a simple, isolated skin lesion to generalized itching and hair loss over the entire body. Two of the most common varieties of skin diseases are ringworm, also called dermatophytosis, and rain rot, which is also known as dermatophilosis.

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus, not a worm. It spreads between horses thorough the use of common grooming tools, saddle pads, or

harnesses. Also, damp, dark, and crowded conditions (such as horses confined to their stable during the winter and fall) can predispose horses to contracting ringworm.

Ringworm is most common in horses under three years of age, and older or debilitated animals. It initially presents as small, circular patches of hair loss with scabbed or flaky skin beneath. If left untreated, these circular lesions will grow into large, irregular areas of broken hairs and blisters with scabs. These areas are susceptible to secondary skin infections.

The lesions are most typically seen around the girth and saddle areas, on the face and around the eyes, and on the legs. Sometimes the lesions are extremely itchy. It is also very contagious, spreading between horses and even from horses to humans.

If ringworm is suspected, treatment should start right away. The infected horse should be isolated from others, and all tack and grooming equipment should be disinfected. This can be done with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Also, a shampoo medicated with miconazole should be used daily on the horse for five days, and then weekly until all the lesions are fully healed.

Another irritating skin condition is rain rot. Also known as rain scald, or dew poisoning if seen on the lower limbs, it is caused by a bacterium with fungal characteristics.

The bacteria live in the soil and generally cause infections during periods of prolonged wet weather, hence the name. It is contagious and can be spread to other horses by infected animals. Other contributing factors are poor stable hygiene and skin irritation caused by insect bites.

Horses with rain rot generally present with a series of small bumps down their backs. The lesions progress to form circular scabs and matted tufts of hair. Removal of these mats is painful and can cause raw, bleeding, irritated areas. Veterinarians sometimes call these circular tufts “paintbrush lesions.” These are generally seen on the back, rump, neck and legs.

Animals that have rain rot should be kept dry and protected from biting insects. The horse should be bathed daily in iodine shampoo, chlorohexidine shampoo, or benxoyl peroxide, and the scabs should be removed during shampooing daily for a week. Severe infections may require antibiotic treatment as well. The best treatment for rain rot is sunshine and warm, dry weather.

Skin conditions should be treated early, before the resulting itching, hair loss, and inflammation result in oozing, crusting, and scaling of the skin. The proper diagnosis of skin diseases may require additional investigation and cannot be reliably pinpointed simply by looking.

Read the next horse health tips article on Stifle Problems.
Register below to get
free horse tips from:

Horse eZine Cover

The Right Saddle for Cutting or Reining

For cutting and reining horse events, you definitely need a saddle that’s designed to help you "ride in balance and sit the stop." First, you want a saddle that was designed and built specifically for reining or cutting. Both of these designs have their individual advantages but remember, just because the manufacturer "calls" it a reining saddle doesn’t mean it was designed "well" for reining.

Browse more horse training resources that will help you better train your horse.

 Horse Education
Horse Training Teleseminar
 Horse Information Topics
Horse health
Horse nutrition / feed
Horse pasture / forage
Horse care
Horse tack / equipment
Horse diseases
Horse shoes / Hoof care
Horse rescue / adoption
Horse transportation
Horse training
Horse trainers
Horse breeds
Horse breeding
Horse names (5,000)
Horse farms / ranches
Horse barns / fencing
Horse riding
Equestrian Sports & Activities
Horse shows
Horse words dictionary
Share a Horse Story
 Horse Business Owners
  Advertise with Us
Have your horse products or services exposed to over 27,000 of our monthly visitors.
  Home | | Privacy | Security | Legal notices | Advertise with Us
 Copyright (c) 2011. American Horse Rider & Horses and Horse Information. All rights reserved.