Once you’ve identified rain rot, here’s what to do:
1. Bathe your horse gently with an antibacterial
2. Try to remove as many of the matted hair clumps
as possible, but take care—this can be painful
for your horse. In severe cases, sedation by your
veterinarian may be required.
3. After bathing, dry your horse completely and keep
him in a dry place until the skin condition has
healed, which can take a week or more. Dryness is
imperative in the healing process, since moisture is
required for the bacteria to proliferate.
4. Most simple cases of rain rot can be treated with
just a good shampoo and a dry environment, as
described above. However, sometimes the lesions
become infected with other bacteria. If your horse
is particularly painful or you notice a foul smell or
discharge coming from your horse’s skin, call your
vet. Systemic antibiotics may be needed.
Medically known as pastern dermatitis, scratches
goes by many other common names that all mean the
same thing, such as greasy heel, cracked heel and mud
fever. This equine skin condition occurs at the back
of the pastern and is characterized by swelling, hair
loss, red, irritated skin, and the formation of scabs.
This condition understandably causes sensitivity in
your horse’s heel and can be severe enough to cause
While the true cause of scratches has yet to be
determined, this skin disease is most commonly
seen in horses that spend lots of time standing in wet
or unsanitary conditions. Horses with feathers are
predisposed to this disease, as long hair along the
lower leg retains moisture close to the skin. Scratches
usually a;ects two or all four feet.
Tender, raw heels are the featured characteristic of
this disease. Here’s what to do if you see it:
1. Like with rain rot, dryness and cleanliness are
the keys to beating scratches. If your horse has
feathers, the extra hair should be clipped away to
allow adequate airflow to the skin.
2. After clipping, if it is needed, wash the pastern
area with an antiseptic scrub, such as 2 percent
chlorhexidine. This not only cleans the skin, but
also acts as a drying agent. Dilute iodine works
cases of rain rot
can be treated
by bathing with
providing a dry
Scratches or pastern
dermatitis is characteriszed
by swelling, hair loss, irritated
skin and formation of scabs.
Rain rot can be identified by
crusty, matted clumps of hair
on the horse’s back and rump.