Appearance: scabby crusts that form raised bumps with upright tufts of matted hair. The crusts form on parts of the body that are chronically damp -- often along the topline and where rain runs off down the barrel, shoulders or hindquarters, but also on the lower legs or faces of horses who regularly stand in mud or graze tall, wet grass. Over time, the crusts peel off, leaving small, round bare spots; pus may also be seen under newly sloughed scabs.
Causes: Rain rot is a bacterial infection. The causative organism, "Dermatophilus congolensis", can reside on the skin without causing trouble, but it multiplies rapidly in a moist environment. If the bacteria find a break in the skin, whether a small wound or insect bite, an active infection can develop. Anything that compromises a horse's immunity---advanced age, malnutrition, illness---can make him more susceptible to the infection, as can having a heavy winter coat, which tends to trap moisture against the skin.
Do you need to treat it? Yes. Rain rot is uncomfortable, if not painful, for the horse, and it can cause unsightly patches of hair loss.
Protocol: First remove the horse from wet conditions and place him in a living arrangement where his coat can dry out thoroughly. A variety of anti-microbial shampoos and disinfectant rinses are available over-the-counter that are labeled for use on rain rot infections; the horse's coat will probably need to be treated daily for at least a week. The specific duration of treatment depends on the product being used and the severity of the infection. Spot treating may be effective if only a small area is affected; otherwise, giving the horse a full bath may be advisable.
Picking off loose scabs may help them heal faster, because exposing the bacteria to air helps to kill them, plus it will enable topical treatments to penetrate further. But do not remove scabs if they are still tight and pulling on them causes the horse pain.
Call your veterinarian if an infection fails to improve after a week, despite treatment. She can make sure your horse actually has rain rot, rather than another similar condition, and may prescribe a topical medication or oral antibiotics, especially if a secondary infection has set in.
Prevention: Provide dry areas that turned-out horses can retreat to in wet weather and keep your run-in shed's roof in good shape. Waterproof blankets and light sheets can also help keep pastured horses dry; just make sure their coats are not damp when you put them on. Groom often, both to clear away mud or dirt, which can hold moisture against the skin, and to spot the infection in its earliest stages. Disinfect all blankets and equipment that came in contact with an infected horse before reuse.
Once that the area affected has been properly treated with the use of Blue Light Therapy and any necessary Essential Oils therapy has also been completed it is best to apply an herbal-base salve to the affected area. Application is to be accomplished two to three times daily and every day in between other therapies are accomplished. Remember to apply the salve only AFTER the use of the Low Level Light Therapy using the BLUE light having the salve on the skin when using the Red Light torch could cause the affected area not heat to a point of discomfort for the horse.
Any thoughts or questions?.......
Until next Time …. “Ride for the Brand”