Scratches

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Scratches

Pastern Dermatitis, Mud Fever, Mud Rash, Cracked Heels, Dew Poisoning, Greasy Heel, Bacterial Dermatitis

Pastern dermatitis is a collective term for an intractable, painful, exudative dermatitis affecting the back of the hose's pasterns. It is most frequently found on the non-pigmented (white-skinned) areas.
Where to look for scratches on horses
There are three different forms of pastern dermatitis with the mildest form the most common.
  • Mild form: Matted hair, minor swelling, scaling and crusting of skin
  • Exudative: Skin redness, skin erosion, hair loss, serous to purulent crusting of skin, vasculitis
  • Chronic Form: excessive granulation tissue (fibroblastic proliferation) that becomes cornified, nodular proliferations of hyper­eratosis and lichenification, painful lesions, lameness

Symptoms

Hard, crusty lesions
When pulled away, hair pulls with it
Swelling
Variable itching
Oozing serum or blood
Lameness
20%

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Skin surface cytology
  • Skin scrapings
  • Dermatophyte culture

Treatment

TherapiesDetails
Management
Avoid turning horse out before the morning dew has dried
Keep horse's legs clean and dry during wet weather conditions
Avoid turning horse out in muddy, wet, or sandy pastures
Keep lower leg hairs short by periodically clipping
Topical Therapies
Scrub legs with antibacterial shampoo (active ingredients include benzoyl peroxide (3%), chlorhexidine (2%) and ethyl lactate), applied daily for 7 to 10 days, then 2 to 3 times weekly.
A topical ointment containing 2% mupirocin for Dermatophilus or staphylococcal bacterial infections
Apply a padded, water-repellant bandage changed every 1 to 2 days.
Cases of exudative lesions, astringent solutions such as lime sulfur (4 to 6 oz/gal) or aluminum acetate solution.
Enilconazole
Lime sulfur dips and sprays
Miconazole shampoo
Selenium sulfide
Triamcinolone
Hydrocortisone
Alclometasone diproprionate
Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole
Enrofloxacin
Fluconazole
Griseofulvin powder
Itraconazole
Ketoconazole
Betamethasone valerate (1%)
Dexamethasone
Prednisolone
Pntoxifylline

Prevention

  • Changing the horse's turnout schedule so that they aren't outside during dew formation in the early morning
  • Regularly drying off legs with a towel after baths
  • Maintaining pastures so that grass is not excessively long and/or any photosensitivity causing weeds are not present
  • Minimizing prolonged exposure to muddy conditions or wet bedding
  • Keep lower leg hairs short by clipping

Prognosis

Scientific Research

General Overviews

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Risk Factors

  • Long, thick hair (feathering) on their lower legs
  • Frequently standing in muddy pastures or wet bedding
  • Exposure to certain irritant plants in the pasture
  • Exposed to frequent wet environments
  • Turned out in pastures with long grass in the early mornings, when dew forms.
  • Recent trauma to lower limbs