Your horse’s skin is the largest elimination organ working in synergy with the liver, kidneys, lung, and intestines to clear the body of morbid waste and toxins.
Your horse’s skin has an ecosystem and environment all its own and if the pH or the microbial population is offset and becomes out of balance you will see a wide range of conditions present themselves.
It’s important not to get lost or let your focus be consumed only on the symptom. The skin problem is merely a communicator of your horse’s current state of health.
Listening to what your horse is expressing from a place of curiosity and observation will not only serve you in bringing your horse comfort faster… but will ensure you don’t mask the symptom only to have this concern return season after season or during times of stress.
Let’s first look at the long list of conditions your horse might face if they get imbalanced in the organ system of the skin.
Equine Skin Conditions Your Horse Can Experience
Formally referred to as Summer Seasonal Recurrent Dermatitis (SSRD) or Equine Insect Hypersensitivity (EIH). An allergic reaction to the saliva of a biting gnat known as the Culicoides midge.
It can take up to 72 hours after the first gnat bite’s before a reaction occurs.
Reduce your horse’s risk by utilizing fly or insect sheets, natural fly sprays, and maintain (dry out if possible) wet or damp environments that will attract and produce the gnat population.
For natural remedy options and details, please see details for the Horse Health Hub, our “all in one” reference and resource for all things natural equine care.
Hives are fluid-filled, raised swellings that can surface on your horse’s skin. The bumps are generally round in shape with a flat-top. Varying in size and diameter ranging from ½-inch or in some cases even 6 inches or more.
There are two main cause categories for hives… they can be immune system related or non-immune system related. When they happen in response to bug bites, sprays, bedding, vaccines, chemical exposure, or food sensitivities they are more immune system related. If the hives are triggered by stress, heat, cold, sunlight, or exercise it would not be immune system related.
Pinpointing the trigger of the hives is important. For example, if a horse is having a reaction due to chemicals and not biting bugs… but you’re consistently spraying them with fly or insect spray, you’ll only be amplifying the concern.
If one of my horses’ has hives, I prefer to support the immune system regardless of the what I feel the trigger might be.
My go to options for support would be something like ForeBasics or ForeRunner Paste from ForeFront Equine.
Another amazing clean purely herbal option would be Wild Fed Horse Allergy formula.
From there I would be looking to offer individual support based specifically on that horse’s individual needs. You can always see options for how I can support you further on the Work With Me page.
Skin growths or tumors that typically appear around the mouth, ears, and sometimes around genitals.
The formal term for warts on a horse is papilloma. The formal name relates to the common cause, a papilloma virus. Papilloma virus causes cell malfunction which prompts excessive production of a protein within the skin cells (keratin).
A sarcoid is believed to be caused specifically by bovine papilloma virus strains. There are at least six different classifications of sarcoids based on their size, texture, and appearance.
This category of skin condition along with skin cancer are concerns I see as a different communication or indicator of the body. Cell health and function are deeply connected in these conditions.
For that reason I prefer a strong focus of reducing oxidative stress and promoting cell repair, increasing healthy cell reproduction, & boosting optimal cell function.
Click Here to check out additional viewpoints and tips from my featured Aural Plaque article from Natural Horse Magazine.
Melanomas are raised growths or masses that at times are above the skin and generally have a dark appearance. They can also remain under the surface of the skin.
Most commonly seen on grey horses, but can been found on any horse. Tends to be in mid to later years.
Squamous cell carcinoma generally shows up first in the skin commonly found where the skin meets any mucous membrane. Horse’s with unpigmented skin or areas with pink pigmented skin seem more susceptible to this condition. Believe to be linked to UV ray damage.
Focusing on the 5 Steps I share in our free PDF guide (found at the bottom of this post), along with a STRONG focus of reducing oxidative stress while promoting healthy cell reproduction in every way possible would be my approach if my horse were to experience a cancer condition.
Internal and external parasites are essentially nature’s garbage men… their purpose is to clean up and reduce waste. Therefore if your horse has an imbalance of internal or external parasites it’s simply a reflection of either the outer environment or the internal environment.
Seeking only traditional treatment will only temporarily manage the parasite concern, if you don’t address the surroundings that are a breeding ground for the parasites or the internal environment that is causing them to thrive, they will return and likely in a more concentrated or intensified way.
Proper ground maintenance and manure cleaning is crucial. Chickens are a great natural way to control many parasites and pest concerns.
Your horse’s internal environment it best maintained through diet and lifestyle. See the free guide on the bottom of this post for effective tips to get you started.
Utilizing natural skin and hair products is another way to amplify the balance and health of the skin and coat.
Your horse’s skin has a microbial population that needs to maintain balance for the skin to protect the body and remain in health.
Similarly to the microbiome in your horse’s gut… the right pH balance, moisture, diet, etc. all impact the overall environment and health of the microbial population.
If there is an imbalance or compromise fungus, bacteria, and other pathogens or protozoa can wreak havoc.
Most traditional approaches will rely on fungicide or antibacterial type products to kill off the imbalanced bad bacteria or fungus growth. This might appear effective at first, but if you don’t restore the environment of your horse’s skin… it will likely return and often more aggressively.
Supplement Suggestions – ForeBasics from Forefront Equine.
For additional natural remedy options please see details for the Horse Health Hub, our “all in one” reference and resource for all things natural equine care.
Often times the skin conditions shared within this post will cause some hair loss and balding if left unresolved.
If your horse is experiencing balding, that is not linking to skin conditions, working with your vet to rule out other health concerns is highly recommended.
If no cause is identified be sure to review your horse’s lifestyle for stress indicators and be sure to only provide topical care from natural, gentle, and non-irritant skin and coat care products.
Recommended topical products include skin formulas from Ranch Life Naturals.
For horses with pink or unpigmented skin… they are often highly susceptible to sunburn.
Keeping these horses in shaded stalls or turn outs during the day or utilizing a fly sheet or fly mask with UV ray protection are a few ways to reduce the horse’s exposure and therefore lowering the risk of sunburn damage.
My gelding experiences this concern around his nose and I also utilize Aloe Vera and the Original Skin Formula from Ranch Life Naturals to comfort and sooth his skin.
If your horse is experiencing dandruff or flakey skin, it could be due to diet or lack of hydration of the body.
Look to add an Omega to the diet or increase fat intake with options like chia seeds, ground raw pumpkin seeds, or a stabilized rice bran pellet or meal.
Sometimes adding a small amount of mineralized salt can encourage your horse to drink more and replenish trace minerals.
This is a communication from the body that is best to further explore from your horse’s individual situation and needs. If you aren’t part of the Horse Health Hub yet, this is an excellent resource to help you customize your horse’s care. Click here to check it out and learn more.
As you can see there is an ever expanding list of what your horse might have if the skin environment gets imbalanced or the health and vitality of the skin as an organ is lost.
Typically, horse owners will be led down a path of “treatment” that might appear to alleviate the problem. If this is all you do for your horse, BEWARE… you’re putting your horse at risk.
If you don’t get to the source of why your horse came down with this imbalance in the first place, it’s likely to return in the future.
The worst part is, what can and often does happen is the root of the problem is left unresolved, and ends up driving deeper into the body. Likely to surface in other connecting organs.
To reduce your horse’s chance of health problems, including skin conditions in the future be sure to understand the difference between a symptom and the source.
Action Plan For Results
No More Frustration or Spinning Your Wheels...
Your horse’s skin is the protection barrier and body armor… lingering and long term weakness and compromise here can impact your horse’s wellness, and increase the risk of dangerous health problems.
I want to help you alleviate the worry and hassle of cookie cutter approaches to caring for your horse.
If your horse isn’t greeting you at the gate, is resistant or dull to your cues, or is experiencing negative health conditions… It isn’t your fault. And contrary to what some vets and equine professionals might lead you to believe, it certainly isn’t normal!
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