The Skinny on Scratches


Ever see this on your horse? This is commonly referred to as "scratches" and its the subject of numerous posts, articles and the source of millions of dollars of revenue for companies who manufacture "products" marketed to treat it.

IN MOST CASES (if it looks like the picture) it is a parasitic infestation of the chorioptic mite
IF YOU WANT TO GET RID OF IT - forget everything that you read. The CULPRIT is the Chorioptic Mite - which causes "Chorioptic Mange" which is then referred to by the resulting condition "dermatitis" which people call "scratches" or if its not on the leg "Rain Rot", also referred to as dew poisoning and mud fever. Even if your horse does not have this mite, the treatment wont hurt them and will benefit them.

Here is what you do to rid your horse of this insect and the resulting skin condition:

1) SHAVE and wash the leg with an iodine/soap solution
2) Apply an insecticide labeled to kill LICE or MITES (if it kills lice it will kill mites)
3) WORM your horse with IVERMECTRIN - a FULL DOSE (Quest is fine also)

if your horse's condition is so bad that it is oozing (and likely infected)

4) give your horse a course of SMZ's (commonly used sulfa based antibiotic)

if you want to feel really good about what you did or have something to talk about at the barn, or join in on all of the facebook conversations, go ahead and buy the product of your choice and apply it after you have killed the parasite and cleared up the infection, but lets be 100% clear - its a parasitic infestation that can cause infection and needs to be dealt with as such. No "product" other than an insecticide kills it. MTG is a great product it contains Benzalconium chloride - the active ingredient in acne medications - that's a great one to try AFTER you have taken care of the problem - it makes the skin clearly nice after the problem is treated.

PS - If a muddy environment was a contributing factor, you should move your horse to a dry location so it doesn't reoccur.

PSS - Please dont share - I'm not a vet and I dont want to defend what has worked for me for years. I posted this on my site to help the folks who have purchased my horses and ask for my advice to sort through all of the well meaning but fact obscurring "Stuff" thats posted out there, so the horses can get treated properly rather than being loved to death with lotions and potions that dont address the problem directly. I dont want to spark facebook debates. Its just personally frustrating when a client calls to say that their horse has scratches and I tell them what to do and they post a question on facebook and get 10 people telling them about products to use and so they think thats much easier and so dont treat the horse.

Liz Booth