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Extension > Horse Extension - Ask an Expert > How do I get rid of rain rot?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How do I get rid of rain rot?

Q: I'm having problems with rain rot in my herd. I am treating it with a topical spray, but it will not go away. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Rain rot (if you are referring to dermatophilosis, a bacterial infection) is a common condition seen in horses during rainfall periods (since moisture predisposes the disease). Up to 80% of a herd can be affected. Important things to remember about management are:

  • Make sure you have the right diagnosis (other diseases can resemble rain rot)

  • It is very important to keep the horses dry

  • Most cases spontaneously regress within 4 weeks if the horses are kept dry

  • Crust/scabs removal and disposal is also helpful; crust removal may be painful and may require sedation.

  • Topical therapy can help. 2‐5% lime sulfur, 4% chlorhexidine solutions should be applied as total body shampoos or dips for about 5 consecutive days, then weekly until the scabs are healed. For the more localized lesions, use spray forms.

  • Sometimes systemic therapy is needed (antibiotic such as penicillin or potentiated sulfas) mainly for severe, generalized, or chronic cases.
Other things that should be considered (for treatment and control) are improved hygiene conditions and management practice, nutrition, and insect control measures in addition to avoidance of mechanical trauma to the skin (if any apply to your situation).

By Sandra Nogueira Koch, DVM, University of Minnesota

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