The change of seasons is here, bringing with it shaggy coats, muddy paddocks and the perfect conditions for greasy heel, mud fever and rain scald to bloom.
Greasy heel, mud fever and rain scald are bacterial infections that affect the skin, causing inflammation and crusty, scabby patches that can be hard to clear, once they take hold. White skin and areas that have been rubbed or otherwise compromised are more prone to developing an infection, but any area can be affected.
Greasy heel affects the pastern, while mud fever is usually found on the cannon or shin bones, and rain scald the back.
Treating the trio is often as simple as gently soaking the area to soften and then remove any scabs or crusty bits, before bathing the area with a medicated shampoo or disinfectant.
At Gone Riding, we carry a range of products especially for this purpose. You can use Betadine to help soften scabs prior to removal, and medicated shampoos, such as Hoss Gloss and Hairy Pony's Anti-Bacterial Shampoo Bars, to clear the infection.
Depending upon the severity of the infection, a single treatment may be be enough, but with consistently will bring improvements.
It's important to note that over-treating can be detrimental, compromising the health of the skin and leading to further infection. Using an anti-bacterial cream, such as White Healer or Zinc Putty, can protect the delicate skin as it heals, and help against a re-occurrence between treatments.
As always, for severe or persistent cases you should consult your vet.
The best method of dealing with greasy heel and its cousins, is prevention.
Although not always practical (or possible!!), keeping potential problem area dry and clean is a great start. Drying your horse before putting rugs on will help prevent the kind of humid conditions that rain scald likes from forming under your rug, while making sure they're not always standing in wet paddocks or yards, will do the same for greasy heel and mud fever.
Making sure you take care of sores and skin irritations promptly, will help keep your horse's skin as healthy as possible, making it harder for infections to take hold. You can also feed your horse supplements, such as Equine Vit&Min, providing them with essential nutrients they may be missing, and helping to boost their immune system.
Vigilance, prevention and prompt treatment remain the best ways to deal with greasy heel, mud fever and rain scald. Keeping a few, simple treatment options on hand can help prevent later headaches.