Summer Eczema

Summer eczema is the most common allergic skin condition in horses.

Itching skin is the first and the most typical symptom of allergic skin. Allergy can have many causative agents. Insect bites cause allergic reaction to majority of the horses, even though only minority has summer eczema. Difference between the summer eczema horses and horses reacting allergically is the intensity of the symptoms and required treatment.

Veterinarian can best evaluate with you what is your horse allergic to and estimate the comprehensive clinical situation and define the right treatment.

Summer eczema is the most common allergic skin condition in horses. Horses are over sensitive to the saliva of the Culicoides insects, also called midges. These tiny insects live in wetland, by standing water (e.g. ditches) and are poor fliers, in dark they do not fly at all.

The allergic inflammation is an oversensitive reaction of the skin characterized by warmth, redness and with time hardening of the skin. Allergic inflammation causes itching, which causes horses to rub.

The rubbing cause further damage on skin, which can be infected. Head, ears, mane, tail and the dorsal midline are the symptomatic areas. The severity of the disease tend to worsen over time, specifically if the treatment is not sufficient. 

The primary thing in the treatment of the allergy is to avoid the causative agent (environment, fly repellants, rug).

Good skin care involves keeping the skin clean and taking care of the skin’s moisture balance. The most effective treatment for summer eczema is glucocorticosteroids, cortisone. Cortisone suppresses the allergic inflammation. Cortisone can have severe side effects. However, it is an excellent medication when properly controlled by a veterinarian and currently the only medication in acute severe allergic skin reactions.

Also antihistamines are used in the treatment. However, their efficacy in horses is not explicitly evidenced scientifically. Homeopathic remedies have been shown to be effective for some horses. Skin requires adequate topical treatment, hence cortisone, antihistamine and/or insect rug is not alone sufficient treatment.

Symptomatic areas on a horse with a summer eczema.

Below step by step directions for use of SOLHEDS products

The problems in treating horses with summer eczema are:

1.The treatment is not regular enough

2. Treatment does not reach all symptomatic areas

3. Treatment does not reach properly the skin

4. Insufficient hygiene

The care giver often restricts the treated area on what she/he can see. E.g. from mane only the area with hair loss is treated instead of the entire mane. It is common to see that the skin at the base of the entire mane shows signs of allergic reaction eg, inflamed skin with redness, warmth and hard skin. Broken insect rug implies of itchy skin requiring skin care. In chronic diseases like allergy, the basic care is good maintenance therapy, thus regular daily treatment. Horse owners will often need to arrange more care givers in order to provide daily treatment.

Allergic skin is sensitive and it does not tolerate harsh chemical nor mechanical stress. Use products you would be willing to use yourself on your own skin. Avoid greasy and dirt collecting products. Try taking the insect rug off from time to time e.g. in the middle of the day when there aren’t that many midges. Summer eczema is an allergic disease not a feature. The disease requires regular treatment in order to manage your horse’s painful itching and to control on the symptoms. Hindering the rubbing of your horse does not decrease the allergic inflammation, nor your horse’s itching. When treating your summer eczema horse monitor the condition of the skin also by palpating it, not just the hair. Well conditioned skin is soft, flexible and cool.

Derma products are long lasting as only small doses are used. The nozzle/tip cap helps in accurate and economical administration of the product.