Sweet Itch in Horses

Posted by Catherine Willoughby on

Sweet Itch in horses is the effect of midges and appears in the warmer months when the midges are more active between March and November.  The condition tends to disappear once temperatures drop lower than 4°C when the midges are inactive.

The main signs of sweet itch in horses are as follows:

  • Itching on the neck, mane and tail
  • Body hair may appear ruffled and rubbed
  • Dull or scurfy patches on the coat
  • Lumps or scaly skin
  • Inflamed or hot to touch areas
  • Hair loss, bleeding and skin thickening
  • Horse rubbing and biting its skin
  • Restless horse
  • Possible weight loss

Sweet Itch, also known as Summer Dermatitis or Equine Insect Bite Hypersensitivity, can affect all breeds and types of horses, ponies and donkeys.  Studies have shown that genetics can increase the development of the condition.

The condition is an allergic reaction to the protein in the saliva of biting insects which predominately is the midge in the UK.  This causes the immune system to attack its own cells which produces the skin reaction.

There is no known cure for Sweet Itch but there are many products on the market that can help you control the condition along with daily management.

Using Botanica has brought some great results and can alleviate the use of rugs, as the products are natural insect deterrents. For the best results, follow the below routine:

  • Dilute Botanica Cleansing wash - 4 Caps per litre of warm water
  • Clean the affected area and remove dead and dry skin
  • Leave for 3 to 5 minutes (do not wash off)
  • Apply Botanica Anti Itch Cream and massage in (repeat after 5 minutes)
  • Repeat the above process once a day for 5 consecutive days
  • In the second week apply Botanica Anti Itch Cream every other day

You can also use the Botanica Cleansing Wash in half a bucket of warm water to wash your horse down after work or prior to clipping for a super clean.  You do not need to wash the product off.

For our full range of Botanica products click here


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