Sweet itch is a very confusing allergic-type reaction occurring mainly in summer and can affect all our animals. The horse itches everywhere. Your horse will rub and bite the areas involved – ears, mane, withers and tail. If you don’t treat this condition, the skin will become thicker, wrinkled and discoloured with very little hair coverage. Many natural treatments work very well.
This allergy isn’t contagious and mainly shows itself in more sensitive horses. The culprit is a tiny sand fly, or biting midge, which is most active in the early morning and late afternoon until early evening. Prevention is much better than cure. If you can prevent these midges from biting your horse, it won’t have to itch and rub. Burn a little old grass with citronella oil in a drum to create a smouldering smoke that will reduce midges in the area, but be careful not to let horses inhale the smoke. Oils that can be used as very good insect repellents are cedarwood, sandalwood, pennyroyal, catmint, lemongrass, citronella and lavender. A few drops of one or two of these oils can be applied to the tail and at the poll of your horse, twice a day.
Treating the itch
If your horse already shows symptoms, it’s essential to prevent further bites. To treat the infection, use graphites with hypericum and calendula lotion, applied topically. Cleavers, echinacea or nettles can be boiled and the leaves applied as a warm compress to the infection.
Feeding Nat. mur, Kali. sulph and Calc. fluor will help heal the skin from the inside. Feed five pills six times a day. Washing the horse with a gentle or mild antiseptic soap like Betadine is a good idea. Lifebouy soap also works very well. The trick to healing the skin is to break the cycle of itch and rub. The more the horse rubs, the more the skin reacts.
Cortisone will also help break this cycle. – Kim Dyson (082 888 6511). |fw