Sweet itch is a frustrating condition caused by hypersensitivity to salivary proteins produced by culicoides midges. Affected horses typically are worst affected around the mane and tail regions, with hair loss, scabbing and sores forming. Some horses can display more generalised itching.
Most treatments available are only partially effective and good management of sweet itch-prone horses generally relies on the use of a multi-modal approach. Management often includes:
- Avoidance techniques (rugging, insect repellents, stabling at high risk times)
- Skin barrier support (some oils and nutritional supplements, shampoos and topical emollients)
- Immune modulation (Immunotherapy, Dermatophyton vaccine)
- Anti-inflammatories (corticosteroids, antihistamines)
Many of these treatments are most effective when instigated before the midges become active, so if you have a horse that suffers from sweet itch, now is the time to get in touch with your vet to discuss how to manage your horse for an itch-free summer! Contact our office now on 01722 741188 for help and advice.