Only a week or so before Wee and Blue\’s yearend 4-H show, I happened to notice this abrasion above the Paint gelding\’s left front heel. I guessed that the fungal skin disease, commonly called “equine scratches” had been there for a bit, and we just hadn\’t been paying close enough attention.

Given the atypical damp weather and subsequent chronically wet ground we\’ve had this summer, scratches has been a bit of an epidemic in our region. Blue was the only one of our horses at home to acquire the condition, perhaps because of his white socks and legs, being that unpigmented skin seems to be more susceptible to the condition.

\"\"A milder version of it was also present above his right front heel. The condition here illustrates the origin of the moniker \”scratches\” as the condition often presents as thin inflamed lines across the skin, mimicking scratches or cuts.

\"\"Our neighbour and coach related she\’d been seeing a lot of the same at her stable this spring and into the summer, and recommended this product – Vetericyn.

In conjunction with regular gentle cleaning and importantly, keeping the area as dry as possible, as well as several daily applications of the Vetericyn, we managed to treat Blue\’s case of scratches fairly quickly.

\"\"While it was all but cleared up by the time the show weekend arrived, we continued to apply an overnight treatment at the show. Since it can be used prior to the application of other treatments, we doused with Vetericyn, let dry and then applied a salve which had been recommended by a local vet office. This seemed to work well.

Interestingly, as I asked around at neighbouring stables and of my friends, there emerged about as many methods of treating this skin disease, as there were incidents of it. Overall, the general idea of cleansing the area, keeping it dry and applying a topical solution seemed universal, and sound. It\’s at the \”topical solution\” juncture, that the opinions varied widely. So, I\’m curious, how do you treat equine scratches? Let us know in the comment section below if you\’ve found a particular product or method that works best at your barn.


8 thoughts on “Scratches”

  1. Yes I also have a pinto with white socks and he got this infection for the first time last year. I also found that cleaning the area everyday, gently removing scabs. Dabbing with an antifungal solution/antiseptic spray, then applying Bag Balm. Now I check him everyday. If the smallest scab is found I apply Bag balm. I also do not hose down his legs as much, or turn him out with wet pasterns.

  2. Lori Vansickle

    It has been so bad around here that there have been horses admitted to the animal hospital with septicemia caused by scratches. My bay pony with black legs and hooves came down with a bad case of it as well. He had never had it before either.

  3. My old mare had chronic scratches, and now her 5 yr old filly does also. When my farrier came and saw them he suggested sourkraut ( spelling mistake for sure) and I had doubts. Sourkraut has tannic acid, so I thought it cant hurt. 2 days in a disposable diaper, took it off and scabs were gone and it was mostly healed. And not expensive.

  4. In previous years we have used Vetericyn as you have above, just spraying on infected fetlock joints in the pasture 2 to 3 times a day on two of our white socked quarter horse mares. The one mare I had tried many things, washing with antifungal etc, the special green ‘scratches’ cream purchased from our Vet, all worked to a point but only after using the Vetericyn did they clear up and I have only had to treat it one year since. And that was only for a couple of days and it all cleared up.

    I am a converted Vetericyn client for many wounds on horses as it self cleans and not as much washing and picking. Great product that does not seem to be well promoted.

  5. My vet recommended Special Formula that is used for mastitis in cows. It comes in a tube, easy to apply and works really fast. Has procain penicillin and also a steroid to help heal fast I guess, works wonders on scratches. Very inexpensive as well.

  6. The U of S vet college has an ointment that they make up for scratches and it works right away.

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