It will come as no surprise that we are seeing a large number of horses with mud fever at the moment.
This is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Dermatophilus congolensis. During wet conditions the skin is softened, allowing the bacteria to take hold, causing inflammation and scab formation.
The bacteria live under the scabs so it is vital that you remove these, usually through a combination of clipping the legs and soaking them with an antibacterial wash such as Hibiscrub or Malaseb. If there are widespread scabs or they are difficult to remove, don’t be tempted to pull them off or you may damage the underlying skin.
Apply cream to the legs, then a layer of clingfilm and a stable bandage. Leave overnight and this will soften the scabs allowing them to be more easily removed. Once the legs are clean and dry apply an antibacterial cream twice daily until healed.
There are a number of measures you can take to try and prevent mud fever getting a hold. Use protective or barrier creams on the legs when turning out and clean the legs thoroughly when bringing the horse in. Try to avoid excessive washing or over vigorous scrubbing as this can exacerbate the problem. In horses with thick feathers mite control is also very important as this can predispose them to mud fever and other associated conditions.
If you are struggling with mites or mud fever in your horse, please call the practice.