Cleaning Up Dried Up/Previously Oozing Hives with No Wash Stall in the Winter

One of my horses is dealing with a bout of hives that I’m still trying to get to the bottom of. No change in anything so my suspicion is that as there’s less and less to eat in the grass paddock – which is really mostly weeds/this is a new property – she’s eating something that she shouldn’t.

In the meantime, a number of them have oozed and then dried leaving her with crusty bits in her hair that are itchy.

I don’t have an indoor wash stall so can’t give her a bath. Plus it’s freezing and I don’t have a heat lamp.

Thoughts on how to get rid of these without the ability to give her a bath? Things I’ve tried so far:

  1. Trying to brush them out with various curry combs, EZ shedder, stiff brushes, etc. Didn’t really do anything.
  2. Scratching them off with my fingernails. Fairly effective but takes a long time and I’m worried about irritating what is already irritated skin. Also pulls hair out at same time. Horse appears to appreciate this to a point and then gets sensitive about it so I think it does eventually start to irritate.
  3. Using a clorhexadine spray to try to dissolve the crusty bits. Didn’t seem to do much at all.
  4. Using Hilton Herbs Bye Bye Itch lotion to dissolve the crusty bits and alleviate the itching at the same time. Moderately effective but doesn’t get rid of all of the crustiness.

I am thinking I maybe just need a bucket of warm water and a washcloth and try to soak them/scrub them out. And just do a few at a time so I don’t make her too cold. She’s a senior so I’m extra sensitive to keeping her warm.

Any suggestions? Or thoughts on what I might add to the warm water to help?

I wonder if something like mayo would work? Like getting gum out of your hair?

I was going to say warm water and a towel/cloth. You can cover the damp spots with a cooler (or two) while the spots dry. I would make sure to wring out the towel/cloth before applying. Then (sc)rub gently when they’re soft.

The same method as hot toweling your horse.

Why do you think the crusty bits stuck in her hair are what is “itching” her versus the hive/skin itself? Personally I would just leave them alone and let them heal. Picking the scab off doesn’t necessarily make it feel any better.

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I’d probably do a mix of wiping down with warm water and towels and then leaving something like equiderma skin lotion on her. When my guy is breaking out in hives, I’ve found for him, they only get more irritated the more I mess with them

How about baby wipes?

I agree with this.
Let them finish healing.
If you are picking the scabs off then they are not done healing.

Zinc ointment left for a day will soften the scabs, and any that are ready will come off really easily. The zinc ointment residue can be removed with rubbing alcohol on a towel if you find it’s too much.

Baby oil with vitamin E, also left for a day would have a similar effect. I find the oil with E is less greasy than straight baby oil.

Both zinc and baby oil will soothe the skin.

I would suggest a gentle wash with warm water and chlohexidine or betadine SOLUTION, not the wash. Then rub in some chlorhexidine cream (Hibitane cream in our neck of the woods). Don’t pick, let the scabs fall off with normal gentle grooming. Are you sure it is not rain rot?

This is basically what I ended up doing. Warm water to try to soften the crusty bits, then a gentle scrub to remove them. Followed up with lotion to try to get the rest to soften/dissolve.

They aren’t scabs in the sense I think you’re thinking of them. The hives oozed and the serum dried on her hair. When I dissolved them in water the skin underneath looked totally fine.

That’s a great idea. There are a couple spots left where I might try this. I have both zinc and Vit E oil at home already.

I’ve never dealt with rain rot before but I just read about it. I don’t think that’s it. It’s a pretty classic presentation of hives in terms of appearance and location. And they are all under her blanket so she hasn’t been wet in the areas where they are.

Pico-Banana- rain rot is a catch-all term for crusty skin infections usually caused by a combination of bacteria and fungi. It is not necessarily associated with rain, just that damp conditions can make it worse, especially in horses not groomed regularly. It can definitely occur under blankets ( think warm and moist). Hives do not generally ooze as the skin is not broken. Insect bites and infections damage the skin, may ooze or bleed and develope crusts/scabs

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Thanks, @demidq! I did some further reading about rain rot and it does kinda sound like it, even if it’s not a perfect match … I do groom her frequently and I don’t think I’ve ever felt moist conditions under her blankets. It also has not affected my other horse, and I can’t say that I’ve been super careful in going from one to the other until recently (I’ve been spraying my hands with antiseptic. And they have their own brushes anyway.)

But anyway, I think I will treat her for both conditions. I just ordered some lotion with chlorhexidine. And I have betadine so I can add that to my warm water washing.

I can’t easily wash her blankets, but I can keep a clean cotton sheet underneath them to help prevent it from spreading that way, at least.

Thanks again!

And actually it will be super nice if it is rain rot, because if it’s hives the only thing I’ve been able to think is causing it is that she’s eating something in my grass paddock (which doesn’t have much left in it right now so she’s likely eating weeds and other not great stuff), and so I’ve been keeping them just in the dry lot. They will be much happier if they can get their hour of “grazing” in in the morning before I swap them to the dry lot!

This is why I love COTH, despite the occasional snarkiness. :slight_smile:

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Pico-Banana- I didn’t mean to be Snarky!
A clean cotton sheet under her blanket would definitely be a good idea along with the chlorhexidine, and if it is not rain rot it certainly won’t hurt! Treat it daily for at least 10 days, and monitor to see if there are new lesions coming up.
I struggled with rain rot for a few months one winter, didn’t realise what it was. It didn’t spread to my other horse either despite shared brushes, so there must be some other immune factor at play here. Good luck

I think most of us have seen these on our horses - just not all over them.

My point is that the “scabs” themselves are probably not bothering the horse - only you. It wouldn’t likely matter to your horse if they were removed or not; but it is likely that the skin is still itchy underneath and picking the scab off won’t make a lot of difference.

It could be rain rot but doesn’t sound like it to me. It could also be insect bites - tick bites, especially. It may not be likely that your horse is covered in ticks (especially this time of year), but sometimes they do get into a swarm of biting flies which can have a similar effect.

It won’t really hurt to wash your horse but it may not help. I would definitely avoid picking any scabs that still seem to be actively oozing as they are not healed.

@demidq I did not mean that you were snarky! I just meant COTH in general sometimes. :slight_smile:

I’ve just discovered that No Thrush Powder is the bomb for wintertime rain rot. I put a generous poof of powder on each and every scab, then curried it in, and repeated every day or every other day. Within a week he was completely healed, and any residual powder on his skin helps prevent reoccurrence. I love this stuff!

If the ‘hives’ are all located under the blanket, could the blanket have been cleaned/treated with something she is allergic to? If so, the sheet under the blanket could provider enough of a barrier between horse/blanket to alleviate retriggering.