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Home:Equine Diseases: Equine Rain Scald

Equine Diseases

Equine Rain Scald

Rain Scald, Rain Rot or Streptothricosis are the names given to the skin infection caused by the organism dermatophilus congolensis. Rain scald is not painful or serious but it can lead to secondary infections such as staph and strep (staphylococcus and streptococcus) which are more serious. Rain scald should therefore be treated promptly. Rain scald consists of scabs, small lumps and small matted tufts of hair found on the horse’s back and rump, the back of the fetlock, front of the cannon bone, tips of the ears and around the eyes and muzzle. It is said of rain scald that the cure is more painful than the infection. Prevention of rain scald is the best way forward – keep your horse dry during periods of heavy rainfall or humid weather and disinfect all shared items such as blankets, brushes etc. Rain scald thrives on lack of oxygen.
Symptoms of Rain Scald are large crusty scabs, small lumps on the horse’s skin when you rub your hand over it or small matted tufts of hair.

Rain Scald is caused by conditions resulting from lack of oxygen such as a heavy hairy coat, damp warm conditions, poor ventilation and infected stalls. An injury to the skin resulting in a cut or scrape will allow the rain scald organism to enter the skin thus leading to more serious infection.
You can do a lot to treat rain scald yourself such as ensuring good stable management, isolating your horse, ensuring good nutrition to help the immune system fight rain scald, protecting against biting insects and if your horse has a heavy coat, cut it to allow plenty of air thus depriving the rain scald organism of the conditions it needs to thrive. Wash the skin with antimicrobial and antibacterial shampoos and conditioners and rinse well to remove the rain scald infection. Ask your vet about the use of products such as Phenol, Nolvasan or Betadine to help kill off the rain scald organism. If the rain scald is very severe, your vet will prescribe the use of strong antibiotics.