An In-Depth Look at Summer Eczema in Equines

spotted pinto black and white horse grazing in a field at sunset

While in the thick of the warm summer months, horse owners must be prepared for equine summer eczema, also known as sweet itch. This condition affects horses of all breeds and ages and can cause discomfort and distress for both the horse and the owner. This blog post will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for equine summer eczema. Read on to learn more!


Equine summer eczema is an allergic reaction to the saliva of biting insects, particularly midges. These insects tend to be most active during dawn and dusk, making those times of day particularly risky for horses. The saliva of midges contains a protein that triggers an immune response in horses that are sensitive to it. The immune response, unfortunately, leads to inflammation, itching, and discomfort for the equine.


chestnut foal lying down in some hay in the woods

The symptoms of equine summer eczema can vary from horse to horse but typically include:

  • Intense itching of the mane, tail, and neck
  • Hair loss
  • Thickening and darkening of the skin
  • Redness and swelling
  • Scabbing and crusting

The itching caused by equine summer eczema can be so severe that horses rub themselves raw, leading to open sores and further discomfort. In addition to the physical symptoms, horses with equine summer eczema may experience behavioral changes, such as irritability and restlessness.


Unfortunately, there is no cure for equine summer eczema. However, several treatment options can help manage the symptoms and improve the horse's quality of life during these months, which include:

Fly Control

The most effective way to manage equine summer eczema is to reduce the horse's exposure to biting insects. This can be achieved through a combination of measures, such as:

  • Stabling the horse during peak biting times
  • Using fly sheets and masks to cover the horse's skin
  • Applying fly repellents and insecticides to the horse's skin and environment
map skin shampoo equine medical and surgical associates


Regular skin care can help soothe the horse's skin and promote healing. This can include:

  • Cleaning the affected areas with a mild antiseptic solution
  • Applying topical creams and ointments to reduce inflammation and itching
  • Removing scabs and crusts to prevent infection

Equine Medical & Surgical Associates’ Map Shampoo helps to remove crusts and bacterial debris. Map Shampoo is all-natural and gently aids in healing, with one bottle containing several months’ worth of baths for your horse’s comfort!


Some horse owners have reported success in managing equine summer eczema through dietary changes. Increasing the horse's omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E intake can help support healthy skin and reduce inflammation.


In severe cases, a veterinarian may recommend immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots. This involves gradually exposing the horse to small amounts of the allergen over a period of time, with the goal of desensitizing the immune system to the allergen.

summer eczema oral supplement equine medical and surgical associates'


Sometimes, a well-rounded diet full of minerals and vitamins may not be enough for outstanding external circumstances like these flies. Equine Medical and Surgical Associates offers natural support for your horse's immune system to stop the itch in cases like these. Our Summer Eczema Oral Supplement is a top-rated herbal blend for all breeds of horses to help heal your equine’s skin after bouts of intense itching. This will help your companion feel comfortable in their skin again! You can purchase a 30-day supply for Active Cases or 60 day supply for a Maintenance Dosage. This product comes in two flavors - Molasses and Sugar-Free Apple, as well as in powder (60 Servings) and liquid (50 Servings).


Preventing equine summer eczema can be challenging, but there are some steps horse owners can take to reduce their horse's risk. These include:

  • Keeping the equine indoors during peak biting times
  • Using fly sheets and masks to cover the horse's skin
  • Applying fly repellents and insecticides to the horse's skin and environment
  • Keeping the horse's skin clean and dry
  • Supplementing the horse's diet with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.

Equine summer eczema is a frustrating and uncomfortable condition for both equines and their owners. While there is no cure, several treatment options can help manage the symptoms and improve the horse's quality of life so that you can enjoy your special time together. By reducing your horse’s exposure to biting insects and providing regular skin care, you can help prevent and manage summer eczema.

Our job at Equine Medical and Surgical Associates is to help get your horse back to health, so you can soak up all the summer sun you can together! We understand your time is valuable. We will immediately call you back and email responses because we know you need the information to help your horse. If you have any questions or want to peruse our website for more information, contact us here! Your equine will thank you for taking such good care of them.