Equine Summer Eczema; what it is and how to recognize it

Horse in field

Summer is the perfect time to allow your horse to roam around the fields, take your horse to a shaded trail, or even work and perfect your riding techniques. Unfortunately, you may not be able to complete all of these activities at first due to equine summer eczema. Just like humans, horses can suffer from eczema, especially in the summertime. Below, summer eczema will be more thoroughly defined as well as ways to recognize and treat this issue for your horse!


Summer Eczema

Has your horse been acting strange lately? You may recognize that your horse has become fidgety and restless. The possible reason could be due to summer eczema; this is a repetitive allergic, itchy skin disease of the horse. Summer eczema is an extremely common diagnosis for a horse in warmer months. This disease commonly shows up in March, April, and October. Horses can usually contract summer eczema through biting insects; with the culicoides gnat being the #1 cause. There are dozens of species of culicoides - so in some areas, a horse might not be allergic to those species in the area, but if shipped to another place, see skin problems due to a different species there.


Horse with flies on face

Symptoms of Summer Eczema

There are various symptoms that may show up on your horse due to contracting summer eczema. The number one symptom that occurs is itching; itching will make your horse feel uneasy, agitated, and on edge. In order to try to get the itching to go away, your horse will most likely try to rub its body against trees or posts in your field. Due to the constant rubbing, your horse can potentially lose hair. The open areas, or wounds, of the skin, can allow for secondary bacterial infections to occur. You may even notice the horse is more sensitive in specific areas compared to others. The most delicate areas of a horse that are affected by summer eczema are the horse’s head, ears, mane, and the base of the tail. The symptoms pop up in warmer months due to the Culicine mosquitoes becoming more lively around sunrise and sunset. If you live in a coastal area, your horse has a less likely chance of suffering from summer eczema. 

You may start to notice pruritus with skin lesions and other secondary infections. Extremely severe cases of summer eczema may have ginormous lesions on larger areas of the horse’s entire body. A horse may be diagnosed clinically or if you happen to see the above seasonal symptoms occur. Other secondary diseases caused by summer eczema include parasitic skin diseases, dermatophytosis, and other allergic reactions. 


Treatment of Summer Eczema

There is no cure to rid your horse of this disease, but there are a few different methods of treatment that you can look into if your horse is suffering from summer eczema. The priority treatment is to decrease the contact with insects. Try to keep your horse to minimal contact with gnats in particular. Make sure not to wash your horse with regular soap if the horse has summer eczema; using regular soap can make their skin more irritable and leads to more discomfort. 

 Along with the above treatments, taking proper care of your horse’s nourishment is extremely valuable. A diet that is healthy and balanced will keep your horse’s energy at a proper level when experiencing summer eczema. Make sure to provide quality hay filled with vitamins and minerals. The last thing you want when your horse has summer eczema is for the horse to be overweight. If the horse is overweight, the skin sensitivity is heightened. A summer eczema oral supplement should be given to your horse twice a day. The summer eczema oral powder at EMSA works great. The way you wash your horse is also important. Try to use a Map Shampoo, a natural shampoo that removes crust and bacterial debris, do 3 times a week for 4 weeks. Only use one bottle and then go back to whatever shampoo you prefer. Once your horse is dry from the shampoo, use a Quadrabiotic Enzyme Ointment to soothe any irritated areas. 

After the map shampoo/drying/quad ointment - apply RK Topical spray 2 times a day - gnats, mosquitoes, flies, ticks will not get near our horse. The skin will recover due to no more bites occurring. 

Hopefully, if you start to notice that your horse has summer eczema, you will be prepared to treat it quickly. Try out one of the above treatment methods to alleviate any pain or itch that your horse has. Visit our website if you have any questions.