How to treat summer eczema.

DermatologyThick legs, crusts, mallenders, itching, urticaria etc. Are clinical pictures that sometimes occur seasonally. Sometimes they appear unexpectedly and have no connection with the fauna and flora, or with the flight of insects, or even with the exposure to the sun (UV rays). With a local treatment tailored to the appearance, many problems can already be solved.

In addition to a biopsy of the skin and subcutaneous tie and subsequent histology or bacteriology/mycology, more in-depth examinations include blood tests to search for possible causative allergens (allergology).

Skin tumors we try to type (biopsy, fine needle aspiration) and treat, z.B. the sarcoid.


Maude is not an actual disease, but an inflammation of the skin in the fetlock area due to various causes. More often the hind legs are affected. With more than 80% mainly the non-pigmented (white) areas of the limbs.

There are three different courses: mild, exudative and chronic.

Mild superficial crusts, slight hair loss

Exudative redness, weeping to purulent crusts, significant hair loss

Chronic skin thickening, swelling, pain

Possible causes of the mallenders

– Infections with bacteria, viruses, fungi and ectoparasites, such as mites, hair lice, etc. – Immune related, such as due to a contact allergy. – Trauma (injuries, burns, increased stress on the skin from training on sandy ground). – Climatic-environmental factors such as dirt, moisture and UV light. – Certain breeds (Tinker, Shire, etc).) have an increased risk for mallenders due to their long coats. In the treatment of mallenders, a distinction is made between local (direct treatment in the area of the changes). Systemic (administering medications through the mouth or bloodstream via vein) approach.

In any case, hygiene is very important: cut out the affected areas, wash them with disinfecting solutions/soaps/shampoos and then keep them clean and dry. The list of possible ointments. Shampoos with a wide variety of ingredients is huge. Therefore, here are just a few examples: Zinc, ointments containing cortisone, silver spray, henna, betadine ointment/solution/soap, chlorhexidine shampoo/ointment, u.a.

Antibiotics are used prophylactically in case of advanced mallenders to prevent a possible phlegmon.

Sweet itch

When the days get longer, the weather warmer and the grazing season is upon us it's a beautiful time for horse owners. Owners of summer mosquitoes can not only look forward to this time with joy.

A horse plagued by itching with resulting large areas of chafing on the mane ridge.

What is sweet itch?

Summer eczema" is a hypersensitivity/allergy of horses to the saliva of gnats (Culicoides).

The symptoms of summer eczema occur in the months in which gnats are active and range from severe itching, to hairless, to open bloody skin. Typical localizations include the mane crest, tail, abdominal seam, hose, udder, and the eye area. Affected horses can be severely limited in their quality of life by the allergy. Are partly not rideable during the high season. The symptoms usually appear for the first time at the age of 2 to 6 years. Will get progressively worse with regular contact with the allergy-causing gnats. Particularly affected are horses with a hereditary predisposition to sweet itch, as well as horses coming from regions with little or no occurrence of gnats (Iceland, coastal areas, desert regions).

Large area of scouring at the base of the tail

How to treat sweet itch?

Sweet itch is not curable at the present time. The most effective treatment for sweet itch is therefore a combination of mosquito prophylaxis and symptomatic treatment of the remaining itching and skin lesions.

For a successful treatment mosquito prophylaxis is in the foreground. Their goal is to have as little contact as possible with the allergen (gnat saliva) that causes the allergy and thus the symptoms.

Mosquito prophylaxis

Mosquitoes love it bright, windless and humid – from this important tips for mosquito prophylaxis can be derived:

Stable and pasture

– An ideal sweet itch stable is dark, has a slatted curtain or fly screen at the entrance and all windows, and ideally a fan (gnats are bad fliers). – Since midges v.a. if the mosquitoes are active at sunrise and sunset, as well as on humid days, it is recommended to avoid grazing at these times. – The stable, as well as the pasture, should not be near a brook or standing water (incl. a river). Have ponds) nearby.

Eczema blankets

– Sweet itch blankets have proven to be the safest mosquito prophylaxis over the years. Whenever horses have access to a pasture or paddock during the summer months, respectively. the stable is not "mosquito-proof", it is recommended to use such a blanket. At best, the treatment should be started in spring, before the first symptoms appear.

Repellents (insect repellent)

– As additional insect protection, an effective insect repellent can be applied 1-2 times daily during the mosquito season.

Treatment itching and skin changes

Shampoo and lotions to relieve the itching

These are usually applied 1-2x daily to the itchy parts of the body (not directly to open/ bleeding areas). Regular washing of these areas is also recommended.


cortisone has an immunosuppressive and therefore anti-allergic effect and can therefore usually successfully combat the itching. Since side effects can occur during treatment with cortisone, this should be closely discussed with a veterinarian.


Unfortunately, therapy with antihistamines has so far shown no satisfactory success in horses.

Research Outlook

Allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) for summer eczema sufferers

"ASIT," also called hyposensitization or "allergy vaccination," is the only causative therapy for allergies. It aims to treat the overreaction of the immune system that leads to the allergy. The allergy-causing allergens are repeatedly injected to achieve habituation to the allergen. Particularly important in the development of ASIT are isolating the correct allergens, and reducing their allergenic effect while maintaining their ability to elicit an immune response.

In recent years, there has been great progress in this area of sweet itch research. Several studies are currently underway to test the success of various ASIT procedures with the goal of bringing an "allergy vaccine" to market.

One of these "vaccinations" is already in clinical trials (the last step before market approval) and shows first good results (in about half of the horses an improvement of the symptomatology by 50% and in 20% even an improvement of 75%). There is great hope in research regarding the "allergy vaccine" for sweet itch. Also we are waiting impatiently for further progress. Unfortunately, such a vaccination is not expected on the market for 1-2 years at the earliest.

Since our equine veterinarian, Jasmin Birras, is writing her doctoral dissertation in this area of research, we monitor progress close to the action.

Managing a sommerekzempferdes is not always easy. However, our experienced equine veterinarians are very happy to help and discuss customized treatment and management steps with you.

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