Holy SCRATCHES Batman!!!

I have this lovely gelding that has three tall white stockings. And he’s had by FAR the worst case of scratches I’ve ever seen. Starting to wonder if it’s something more. Plan to have the vet out (again) at the end of the week but thought I would post something here and see if anyone had any other thoughts.

It first showed up at the end of May/June when it got really muddy here, which makes sense. Picked up some cream from the vet, washed legs with a hibitane type scrub, scraped off scabs, dried, applied cream and tried to keep him out of the mud.
Hooray! Dramatic improvement with use of the cream.

Thought we had it gone…


End of July it’s hot & fairly dry, it comes back with a vengeance! Even the front leg that doesn’t have a sock has it. Swollen back legs and all. Ugh. Get the vet out, buy more cream, scrub & scrape legs and get things back under control again. This time, used cream until well after the last scabs were gone. Ah ha! Discover that silly gelding has been standing in a pond in a grove of trees in the back pasture. Close that off so he can’t get back there anymore.

September, it’s back AGAIN. Have vet out again, get more cream, steroid powder to be given daily, religiously try to wash/scrape/cream legs. Get it under control and gone once more and wean him off the steroid. Thinking hooray! It’s finally winter and we shouldn’t have any more issues… wrong!

Got back from a trip overseas this past week and discover that yet AGAIN, it’s back!!! Legs covered in scabs, back legs swollen and sore. It’s been seriously in the -20’s here for over a month and we’ve got snow. No mud! What in the world is going on???

Does anyone have any thoughts on this or similar experience?? Vet is coming out again at the end of the week, hopefully there will be something else we can try.

Time to scrape those suckers and see what’s what, in case it’s not “just” scratches.

Regardless, I’d be taking a hard look at his diet. Insufficient copper, zinc, Vit A, Vit E, selenium, any combination, can compromise his immune system and allow this to take hold.

Yeah a skin scrape is definitely on the agenda. I know the people we got him from said he tended to get scratches really badly, I didn’t realize it was THIS badly!!

Also have heard that some types of clover can cause skin sensitivity/photosensitivity. I know our field has some but the hay doesn’t, so that should have cleared up once he was off the pasture and back on hay full time.

We had a similar experience last summer and after working with a couple of vets, I am fairly sure he had a photo sensitivity reaction. There are a couple threads on this Forum that talk about symptoms similar to what you are describing. Here is one of them.

Our experience happened while we were traveling with our horses and after we got home and the swelling had gone down in his legs, I noticed what looked like scratches (he has had them before) on his pasterns and lower legs. They cleared up fairly quickly using chlorohexidine daily.

I’m not sure what caused the photo sensitivity reaction, but suspect it was a weed he ate in the paddock where we were staying.

A recent thread about scratches:

Open … I’m so sorry for your geldings situation. Its so painful for them & such a tricky nuisance to cure. I’ve spent a good part of my life in swampy areas & scratches issues were regular occurrence. My standby was bute & oral smz tablets, surgical clip hair on legs, wash w/betadine or nolvason, remove crusties, pat dry w/towel & apply thin layer of Animax (panalog) ointment over lesions 2 X a day.

IME … This method never failed & cleared up the crusties & lesions in 7 days of treatment. Other methods can take a couple months to heal. Even start a cycle of almost healed to bad, worse, better, looks healed, nope, not gone yet.

I was told it was caused from fungus on foliage & pink skin is more vulnerable. True that most healthy skin can resist fungus, so its thought to be autoimmune issue ? I’ve never heard of anything missing in diet/ oral supplement to cure, but THAT would be so much easier than other treatments. Please keep us posted on his condition & treatment. Good luck & love to ur pony.

I have tried lots. My vet gave me special formula, in a tube. Thats it’s trade name. They were cleared up in a week.

Ask your vet for Dermavet. Get the bottle that costs ~$100. It’s miraculous stuff.

Been there/done this. Stop clipping the hair under there. Let fetlock hair grow long. Hair naturally wicks dampness/mud away from the skin. Keep area dry. More goo/less washing. JMHO!

I have a horse with four whites that also suffers from scratches. This year is the first year that we have had no problems. I think I finally found a solution that works for this particular horse. This summer I kept her covered in desitin. This acts as a sunscreen and also helps soothe and protect the skin. (I did this as a preventative.)

When I had a terrible outbreak last year, my vet recommended a wash called Hydrosurge. It was great stuff and helped soften the scabs. After washing and drying her legs I coated them with a mixture of sulfur powder (or rose dust) and mineral oil. Once I saw that her legs were improving I moved on to a mixture of Neosporin, desitin, and cortisone cream. I finally found something that worked for my horse. I know scratches are frustrating and can make your horse sore and unhappy. I wanted to share what worked for us, maybe it will help you. Best wishes! I hope your horse heals quickly.

I have a pinto pony who got horrendous scratches every year, and a qh mare who would explode in rain rot when she got wet. I started them both on ground flax seed, and have not have any problems since. It did take several months to really see the results. Both have been problem free for a few years now. Occasionally we’ll get one or two teeny little scabs, and I just rub some endoderm in and they go away. They are also both on MSM, but I just started that this year.

Since he was standing in pond scum, good chance you have some super survivor, stubborn bacterial issues as well as the more common fungi crap. BTDT. Oral SMZs help.

But I do think it’s time for scrapings and lab work to identify exactly what you are dealing with. It could be allergy to bedding or footing- ours used to come back from showgrounds with dirt stall floors loaded with it. It was believed to be something in the footing at another. Devil to get rid of whatever it was.

Heres hoping your lab results don’t come back “dermatitis of unknown origin, possibly fungal” like mine did:confused:, I mean, we already knew that…but the bugs or fungi had already left the building.

Time to scrape those suckers and see what’s what, in case it’s not “just” scratches.

Regardless, I’d be taking a hard look at his diet. Insufficient copper, zinc, Vit A, Vit E, selenium, any combination, can compromise his immune system and allow this to take hold.[/QUOTE]

^^^All of that. My scratches and rain rot prone horses (one of each) have been fungus-free since I changed their diets, which included a vit/min supplement with higher doses of copper, zinc, “A” & “D” and also is a "no iron added supplement.

Too much iron will deplete copper and zinc. Quantities in pasture and hay, along with feed all have to be factored in.

^^^Some horses, like people, are just that sensitive. Some people need a shot at the mere mention of Poison Oak while the next person is pretty much immune to it:)

Scratches are so irritating and living in Florida I am no stranger to them. Try the ViVet Mineral from VetCur for immune boost, it has zinc selenium, B-vitamins, etc, because, of course, the horse’s immune system has to be able to battle foreigners. Also, make sure that you rotate your topical remedies because the bacteria or fungus that is causing the scratches will quickly build an immunity if you are using the same product. If it is a horse that is typically wrapped at night, and you cannot leave him “naked” overnight to let the air hit them, rub some baking soda on his legs before you put the wraps on… it will take out the moisture and create a non-acidic environment (so fungus cannot grow).

I would have a biopsy done ASAP. Google leukocytoclastic vasculitis. I lost my pride and joy mare to this horrible issue.

I have a horse with 4 whites and he used to get scratches literally any time his legs got wet at all. I started washing them with T-gel shampoo. Holy crap, I wish I had discovered that years ago. Knocked it right out.

Hearing that some new research may have a shown a correlation between pastern dermatitis (Scratches) and EPM. Anyone else hearing this?

Have you read the research? Just curious.

Certainly not all horses who get scratches or rain rot have EPM, I doubt it’s even a double digit %. But, if a horse does have EPM, his immune system is compromised, and that could be enough to allow scratches to take hold, so maybe the research is looking at scratches as sort of a canary in the mine?

It’s sort of like developing a bacterial infection when your body is compromised due to a viral infection - not remotely everyone with a bacterial infection also has a viral one.