Fly allergy or mites? Or something else?

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  • amStorm Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    So my mare has sensitive skin, she gets rain rot very easilyoung and it takes forever to go away even with daily cleaning and the whole 9 yards.

    Anyway with the arrival of summer, and the horrible flies here in Virginia we are facing a new skin problem. I personally think it is an allergy to one of the flies here, it will initially welt up horribly and then peels off. Some areas have gotten it worse, mainly her chest and neck, repeated welts and peeling have lead to scabs (though very different from rain rot).

    Someone in the barn keeps insisting it is mites, but I looked up pictures of mites and it looks completely different. Either way I have been washing with an antifungal shampoo, disinfectant and using an Epsom poultice to help with the inflammation. The one night I did not use the poultice she swelled up badly on her chest, so now that is stabbing over. Went back to the Epsom poultice and the swelling has gone down dramatically (thankfully). Blue coat I think actually made it worse. You can see the outlines of where the welts were in the peeling areas.

    I have switched her to night turn out only, and was met with so.easy resistance and the thoughts that it is mites. So thoughts and opinions welcome ♡

    As for diet she is on a hand mixed feed that I make because she is sensitive to Comercial feeds it seems. It includes oats, beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, sunflower oil and a little honey. As for supplements she is on the smart essentials, DMG and smartlytes.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have two horses (out of my herd of 30) that suffer with the “itchies”. One is a Friesian mare. Friesians with their hairy legs suffer from “Muk” as the Dutch call it. A friend of mine, in the Netherlands, who is a veterinarian (large animal) and also raises Friesians, says without a doubt, that the itch is caused by Mites. They use a “dip” to slosh the lower legs with their long feathers. Same sort of dip used for dogs, etc.

    However, I’ve had good luck with regular treatment of Ivermectin dewormer – both given orally to the horse, and applying a smear of the dewormer on the itchy areas.

    The other horse, a Haflinger did not respond to the ivermectin treatment. We do night time turnouts, and keep her covered with a flysheet, and use Ultrashield to keep the bugs away. We treat her itchy belly with this product:

    This seems to calm the itch on her belly, but doesn’t get rid of it completely. I am using Smart Paks “garlic” supplement which I cannot say makes any difference…and she doesn’t eat it well at all.

    So… I’m open to suggestions too about what to do with those horses that struggle with skin allergies such as with my Haflinger. Other than the one Friesian, all my other horses are doing well with Smart Paks “Out Smart” spray which we really like for horse and human.


    Bob&Herd Bob&Herd
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 8

    My mare has suffered from skin allergies since she was 3 years old. She is 13 now, and it has been very frustrating. When my mare is itchy on her chest, neck, jaws, belly, and lower legs, she bites at the areas she can reach, and rubs the other areas against the ground, fence boards, barn posts, etc, causing further damage to the skin. Picture a horse with its head lowered to graze. The itchy areas are the body parts less than about 18 inches above the ground plus the belly. She does not rub her mane and tail as typically seen with biting midges (sweet itch.) I have tried almost every remedy I have heard of — nutrition, supplementation, hyposensitization shots, topical treatments, and every sort of home remedy. Because she gets itchy lower legs, I suspected a biting stable fly allergy, so this year I tried stable fly traps and fly predators, but she is no better. In the end, the only treatment that has given relief is oral steroids (prednisolone) for the worst part of the season, July through September. I hate to use the steroids because of the risks to the horse.

    If your mare has a fungal problem such as rain rot, it can be followed by secondary bacterial infections, complicating treatment. The problem can be aggravated by putting something on the horse’s skin that the horse is sensitive to (contact dermatitis.) The chest and belly are not typical locations for rain rot.
    Mites, midges and/or flies may be the problem, especially if you notice over the years the symptoms occur at the same time of year during the insects’ life-cycle.
    Your mare may have a combination of allergies to mites, midges such as culicoides, and biting flies, as well as molds and fungi that live in the soil or rotting vegetation. Insect bite hypersensitivity can sometimes be diagnosed by the time of year and the location of the itchy areas on the horse. If you can’t eliminate the offending bugs from the environment, you might use a type of fly sheet specifically designed for sweet itch.

    In order to avoid delays in finding relief for your horse, I would have your vet look at the horse ASAP. Once you and your vet have started to rule out what is not the problem, you can concentrate on treatment. Your vet may do skin scrapings from the affected areas to look for fungus/bacteria, or recommend skin tests for allergies. Just be aware that skin allergies can be extremely difficult to diagnose and treat, even with the help of your vet. Best regards…

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have a TB gelding who has severe skin allergies to bugs and possibly other things as well. He has now ended up with Vasculitis twice following reactions, this year the vasculitis ended up systemic and caused some major health problems requiring hospitalization. My advice to anyone who is having trouble with skin allergies is to get your vet out and have the horse fully evaluated. If she is having trouble with excessive swelling, it can become so much more than a simple allergic reaction. Scabs and lesions that don’t respond to regular treatment can be a sign of vasculitis. I spent months treating what looked like scratches, mites, rain rot, only to find it was vasculitis the first time. This second flare almost killed him. Nighttime turnout would certainly help reduce exposure, but you may be looking at a more complicated medical issue.

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