Sweet Itch is a seasonal allergic skin condition that is caused by fly bites. The condition is also known as Summer Seasonal Recurrent Dermatitis (SSRD). The most commonly involved fly in this is Culicoides pulicaris midge. The intense irritation causes the horse to rub its mane and tail and sore patches are formed. Approximately every horse breed has suffered the problem of sweet itch. It is known by different names in various countries like Queensland Itch in Australia, Sommer Ekzem in Germany, and Kasen in Japan. Sweet Itch has bedeviled horses and perplexed horse owners for many years.
Learn how to deal with a sweet itch on a horse from the following account.
Symptoms of Sweet Itch on Horse
- The horse rubs and bites itself, sometimes so much that they bleed.
- A local allergic reaction is caused by the fly bites and papules and pustules developing. The sores can blubber and may even bleed.
- Ample hair loss is seen in most of the affected areas. A horse may lose most of its mane or tail if it is left untreated.
- Though the areas most affected are the tail and mane but the face, ears, poll, chest, and ventral abdomen are other body areas that can also be affected.
- Chronically thickened, wrinkled, and blackened skin
Treatment of Sweet Itch
The exact treatment of sweet itch is still not known but it can be controlled and you can help your horse against this problem with the help of following methods-
Use fly sheets designed or tailored to extend at least halfway down the horse’s tail, thus covering areas that gnats, especially attack.
- Keep your horses away from marshy areas where these flies are bred.
- Feed the horse about two tablespoons of garlic powder twice every day to make his sweat smell like garlic and ward off the flies.
- The fan can stimulate the pleasant flow of air and this soothes the itchy skin of the horse.
- You can apply insect repellents to the mane and tail region of the horse.
- Affected horses should be stabled at least an hour before sunset and should be brought out only after sunrise.
There should be an insect-proof screen in the stable to prevent the midges from entering.
Sweet itch on horses is a skin disease that has troubled horses and horse owners for ages. Especially, during summer months, the problem of the sweet itch is at its peak. Though it is a non-contagious disease; it is a threat to the horses that suffer from it.
Certain drugs are used in the total treatment of the sweet itch on horses. Anti-histamines are also used but the results are capricious. Corticosteroids are very successful at plummeting the signs of itch. Oral prednisolone can work successfully if it is given as a therapy given every alternative day. It should be kept in mind that with excessive use of corticosteroids, the risk of inducing laminitis in the horse can be increased. Thus, observe and follow precautions to save your horse from the troublesome sweet itch.
see more: Sick Horse