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Home:Equine Diseases: Equine Photosensitisation

Equine Diseases

Equine Photosensitisation

This painful condition of equine photosensitisation with flaky itchy crusty dried skin is caused by your horse being exposed to too much sun or sunlight. Equine photosensitisation has two causes - a reaction to something your horse has ingested or a liver disease.  Equine photosensitisation affects the face, muzzle and ears mostly but in lighter skinned horses other areas such as eyelids, tail and vulva can also be vulnerable to equine photosensitisation.  Equine photosensitisation causes the dead skin to slough away. The condition is noticeable very soon after the excessive sunlight exposure.

The Symptoms of equine photosensitisation

These range from scratching or trying to rub the ears, eyelids and muzzle to flaky skin, skin lesions, red swollen blisters which may have a discharge, and teary eyes.

Cause of equine photosensitisation

Of course, this is due to too much exposure to strong sun or sunlight which brings on a reaction to agents in your horse’s blood from (a) an item eaten - such as drugs, chemicals or plant/fungal products or (b) a liver problem brought about by ingestion of some poisonous plants such as St John’s Wort, Clovers, Buckwheat, and Perennial Ryegrass. Lightly pigmented skin is also a cause of equine photosensitisation

To obtain a correct diagnosis of equine photosensitisation calls your vet to arrange for a skin biopsy and blood tests.

Treatment of mild cases of equine photosensitisation

This can be undertaken yourself e.g. moving your horse from the area or food suspected of causing the equine photosensitisation, ensuring a dark stabled environment with no insects, making sure the hay is soaked thoroughly to remove dust, bathing the sore skin very gently with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap and ensuring the areas are thoroughly dried afterwards. Mild soothing ointments will soothe and calm the inflamed and sore areas caused by equine photosensitisation.

For the more severe case of equine photosensitisation, antibiotics, corticosteroiods and antibiotic injections will be prescribed.  Recovery from equine photosensitisation will depend on the degree of damage.