Sweet itch/NTW ??

I apologize in advance for length :frowning:
Okay, so I have been looking for something to help my poor guy for almost 2 years (since I bought him). I have asked everyone around me that knows/has horses and nothing has worked so far. So I have decided to come here after reading about the other success stories of treating skin issues. I say skin issues because I am not sure exactly what he has. I have had a vet say sweet itch, and then tell me because we live in FL (land of the bugs) there is not much he can do except for steroids. I brought up NTW to him and he said while I was more than welcome to try the DD wormer, NTW had pretty much been eradicated in our area so it was not likely to work on his skin issue. He has sores on his chest,midline, armpits, and sheath, and weird bald patches where he has itched the hair off on his neck and shoulder area. He itches his mane and tail occasionally, but not enough to make them bald (he is dandruff prone). He also gets hives from bug bites (I know, I picked a real winner :smiley: ). I am so sick of wasting money on things that don’t work, and having him be miserable. I feel terrible because it is so disgustingly hot in the summer here that he sweats any fly spray/cream/gel/ointment that I put on him right off. I was looking into fly sheets for a while but there are days where there is no breeze whatsoever and I am worried a fly sheet would fry him.

As far as what I am doing now:
I currently have him on Smartpak Bug Off Ultra, which per the reviews has been successful in treating sweet itch. But I haven’t seen a huge difference. I have had him on flax seed for the anti inflammatory properties, but there isn’t anywhere to buy it in bulk around where I live, so I am stuck buying from the grocery store which gets very expensive very fast. I put Skin So Soft by Avon on him to keep the midges/no-see-ums away, but that doesn’t always work 100%.

I am almost embarrassed to post pictures of him because it looks so bad. But, I am so desperate for help that I will do just about anything. If you have any advice, or you might have an idea of what is going on please feel free to share. I just want to figure this out and try to fix it. Also, the pictures of his midline looks wet because I had just slathered some ointment/SWAT on it.
Thank you so much,


I have one that the gnats (or whatever they are called) bother terribly. He is much happier in a fly sheet even if he is hotter, than with the constant itching. Rambos are the best IMO.

He also gets ground flax, which helps his skin immensely. But once he reaches a tipping point of allergic reaction, he is miserable without his fly sheet.

ETA: I do put him inside his stall with a fan in the summer during the hottest part of the day.

My horse was horrible. By June he had rubbed out his mane and tail and his chest, mid line and face were bald.
You can follow his story and see photos at my blog:
Two things turned his life around.

  1. Hilton Herbs Bye Bye Itch. He is on the supplement year round, though I cut back in cooler weather and I use the lotion as needed.
  2. No more night turnout. Ever. Period.
    He has had a full mane and tail now 365 days a year for 3 years now. He doesn’t lose his hair and he looks great.
    He goes out in the AM, early until about noon in the summer and he is then in his stall, fans on, for the rest of the day.

I am amazed to hear that NTW “are eliminated in your area.” Maybe in the area, probably not so much in your horse. Look up the horrendous neck thread worm thread here.

My mare had a dandy case when I bought her and still will itch herself raw on her face when the gnats are active. BUT, after 10 years of doing the double dose worming regimen at the first start of itching, and maintenance doses of ivermectin every 2-4 weeks during our long GA summers, she has a full mane, a full tail, a lot less dandruff, and better attitude since she’s not so miserable all summer long. And she gets welts from everything, too. My gelding could care less about bugs and gnats and has no allergic reactions to anything, but will contract scratches in a heartbeat. Go figure.

BTW, both of mine are out 24/7 365.

I live in Fl as well. I have a mare with Sweet Itch and last year (when I found out about it) I thought it was over :frowning: she was itching all over, she was rubbing her belly against the ground, lost all her mane and most of her tail and was miserable :frowning: My vet also recommended steroids.
This year I started in march to put a fly sheet on her. And I also avoid to turn her out between dusk and dawn. And she is a new horse!! Sometime I still need to use MTG to treat minor rubbings, but she has a full mane, the tail is growing back, she hardly rubs anymore and looks so much happier…

My recommendation would be the fly sheet.

Just a quick suggestion regarding the flax (which helped my horse tremendously with chronic scratches when I first bought him). It will probably be cheaper to purchase a horsetech product like bug off - based on flax - and have it delivered to your house than trying to purchase ‘human’ flax in horse quantities. Free shipping too!

Don’t turn out at dusk and dawn (as Manni01 said) this is when midges/mosquitos are at their peak. Keep a strong fan running in your stall or run-in shed. Moving air does not allow for the bugs to land and bite.

Most importantly, buy a product called Super Lube. It’s a synthetic, non-toxic grease that does NOT melt in high temperatures. You apply it to the areas on your horse where the bugs like to bite. The grease forms a barrier. Bugs literally get stuck in it and cannot bite through it.

Besides using a sweet-itch blanket like the Boett – this grease is a life saver. VERY messy, but worth it!

The reason your horses itches, is because he/she is allergic to the saliva of the mosquito. A terrible problem! And the itching won’t stop until all previous bites are calmed down. So prevention of NEW bites is key while the old bites are diminishing.

In the UK where midges are a nightmare, grease is the product of choice for treating sweet itch when it’s too hot out to cover the horse head to toe with a sweet itch blanket. They make great grease products over there but they are too expensive to ship in quantity. You need a lot of grease for the season!

Ordinary greasy products won’t work because they melt away too quickly at body temp. The synthetic grease will not. It stays on all day and all night.

I used Super Lube on a horse I had that had terrible sweet itch. Believe me it works-- and I tried EVERYTHING! Uckele makes a product called C4G Ointment - really soothing and healing for sweet itch.

Yup, Fla here too I’ve found taking my horse off grain has helped (and he only has the biting gnat problem in summer). Don’t really know why but it helps. I keep fly masks and boots on him and treat with topicals. I had him on Dex for a while but decided it didn’t help enough to justify the risks. Fans in the stalls help, if that is possible. Fly sheet when the heat index is under 95 (which it hasn’t been for at least a month now). Keeping the pasture mowed helps. Mostly hoping for an early hoping for an early autumn! the joys of owning a hothouse flower type…

Here’s a good thread for you:

Double dose of Equimax and again two weeks later.

A friend has a horse with bad bug allergies and she’s trying “Stinky Stuff” from the UK. It’s too soon to be positive, but it does seem to be helping and has great reviews.

Of course, it really lives up to its name and I’m not sure bugs (or anyone else) want to be anywhere near the horse.

I’ve got a mini mare that has it and it’s a huge PITA. She’s not happy being confined and as I am away from home 12 hours of the day, she has to go out before dawn even if I were to keep her up. I’ve tried double dosing with Equimax twice now and really haven’t seen any improvement. Neem Oil added to Pyrrhana flyspray helps some, but as others have posted, even when used by itself in her mane, tail and down her midline, it’s only effective when freshly applied. Will have to check out the Super Lube.

Most importantly, buy a product called Super Lube. It’s a synthetic, non-toxic grease that does NOT melt in high temperatures. You apply it to the areas on your horse where the bugs like to bite. The grease forms a barrier. Bugs literally get stuck in it and cannot bite through it.

Besides using a sweet-itch blanket like the Boett – this grease is a life saver. VERY messy, but worth it! [/QUOTE]

Is this the product you’re referring to? http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3506761

This thread got me thinking. So during the week, I spray this mini mare every morning and evening at feeding time, and give her a good once over every few days - she’s pastured 24/7. So last evening, I took a good look at her irritated spots, particularly beneath her mane and must say that the Neem oil by itself and in the fly spray does seem to be making a considerable difference in her coat. The angry rubbed spots are almost healed since the last time I looked at her at the beginning of the week. And while she’s still rubbing, she’s not rubbing the hair and hide off.

Another COTH member in another sweet itch thread mentioned it and I picked up mine from Home Depot. It’s $8 for a small jug and as directed by that COTH member, I added one “glug” (seriously scientific I know :D) to my bottle of Pyranha fly spray. I’ve also put it on by itself, dribbling it into her mane and tail and wiping it down her midline. So definitely worth trying it. It’s used in the cosmetic industry and smells rather like orange oil but isn’t caustic at all.

I believe that the fly spray, EcoVet has been shown to help with sweet itch? You may want to consider using that along with a barrier type of thing like Super Lube and/or a gnat/fly sheet, limited turnout and/or strong fans.

My mare does well with turnout 9am to noon - or for FL, dawn +2-3 hours. She has a fly sheet and I wipe SWAT down her midline. She is in stall with strong fan the rest of the time

In the past I used a product ‘Camrosa’ from the UK that is also a good barrier ointment with healing properties from the herbs in it. So far this summer we have had good experience just with the SWAT.

My mare also suffers from “sweet itch” - she is allergic to bites from gnats.

Honestly, it’s probably best to skip all the homeopathic and other crap, have your horse tested for allergies, and administer appropriate allergy shots. I know it has made a world of difference for my mare - nothing else really helped.

The initial course is more expensive, I believe, but the maintenance dosing (1x/month) only costs about $130/year (she’s in Georgia and doesn’t get it during the winter… just spring through fall).

Her shots are only for gnats; it would probably also be more expensive for more than one allergen, but I don’t know how much that difference would be. I’m guessing it’s still going to be less than what additional supplements, fly sheets, and your time would cost.

Yes! That’s it. If you search around for it you can get it in a large container - big jar size - more economical. Sorry for the belated response!

Okay, so I double dosed dewormer (Ivermectin because I didn’t have equimax) last wednesday, so almost a week ago. I have not seen any difference or reaction to the dewormer yet. About how long does it take to see if it is NTW or not? Should I go ahead with the dd in a week even if I haven’t seen a difference? I have been putting Avon Skin So Soft bath oil on his rubbed areas to keep the midges away, and that seems to work pretty well. Still have yet to find something that really works though. So I will continue to try out your suggestions. Thanks for you help!

A product called D Itch used to be sold in the USA and worked great. Now it has to be ordered from the UK. But it works well.

Aspirin works well for me.