Does your horse sometimes suffer from summer itch? It's a nasty, itchy skin infection that many horses get. They then develop an allergic reaction to the saliva of certain mosquitoes. Culicine mosquitoes, to be precise. Since eczema is not a scab, how do you recognize summer eczema? And how can you treat it?
What are the symptoms of summer eczema?
- The most common and main symptom of summer eczema is itching, which makes your horse restless.
- In an attempt to get rid of the itch, your horse will rub against posts and trees. In extreme cases, it even rubs off its coat or skin. The mane, the base of the tail, the head and the ears are the most sensitive places.
- The small wounds caused by this friction can lead to secondary bacterial infections.
- Symptoms occur in the warmer months of the year, between March / April and October. Culicine mosquitoes are especially active around sunrise and sunset. Horses in coastal regions often suffer less from summer eczema.
Normally, all horse breeds are sensitive to allergies and therefore also to summer eczema, but it's definitely a problem for Icelandic horses. The culicine mosquito does not exist in Iceland, so Icelandic horses have never developed a natural resistance to it.
How to treat summer itch
Unfortunately, there is still no miracle cure to rid your horse of summer eczema. But you can still lend a helping hand.
Provide a balanced diet. A good diet, with quality hay with sufficient vitamins and minerals. Avoid large and thick pastures, as being overweight seems to increase skin sensitivity.
If you want to prevent your horse from getting summer eczema, try to keep it away from mosquitoes. Keep the pasture clean and dry. If there is no other option, put your horse in the stable during peak times (make sure there is enough ventilation!). Or cover your animal with a special eczema blanket.
You can also use mosquito repellents or specific care products, such as Cavalor Switch or Cavalor FlyLess. Do not wash your horse with regular soap, as this can irritate its skin even more.
In some cases, you can use antihistamines or cortisone. And sometimes alternative treatments with herbs, acupuncture or homeopathy can offer relief.