EQUINE RAIN SCALD
Rain Scald is a common non-serious fungal infection of the horse’s skin by the organism dermatophilus congolensis. Rain scald is also known as Rain Rot or the more correct Streptothricosis. Rain scald infection takes the form of scabs usually 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. The rain scald scabs can be removed by scraping at which stage pus usually oozes from the area and dries as it heals. This procedure is painful but rain scald is not.
Sometimes rain scald can lead to secondary bacterial infections such as staphylococcus and streptococcus. These are more dangerous than the actual rain scald so although rain scald in itself is not dangerous, it is important to have it treated quickly to prevent secondary infection. To prevent rain scald altogether, it is a good idea to disinfect all shared tack and equipment after use
Symptoms of Rain Scald
• Large crust-like scabs, sometimes with embedded hair
• Tiny matted tufts of hair.
• Small lumps on the horses' skin or hair
Causes of Rain Scald
• A cut or scrape damaging the skin
• An organism carried on the horse’s skin which then enters the epidermis via the wound
• Damp warm conditions encourage rain scald
Extreme moisture - horses with thick coats are more likely to keep the moisture close to their skin encouraging rain scald
• Poor stable management e.g. damp stalls, poor ventilation and infected barns.
Treatment of Rain Scald
Sometimes, rain scald is cured naturally when the organism dies off as the horse sheds its winter hair coat. If not, take the following steps:
• Disinfect all tack and equipment
• Keep your horse in a dry clean stall
• Ensure good ventilation
• Protect against biting insects
• Isolate the horse
• Shave a heavy hair coat
• Very very gently remove the rain scald scabs by moistening first, then scraping off and drying thoroughly. This is painful for the horse
• Wash the horse with antimicrobial and antibacterial shampoos and conditioners and rinse well to remove the rain scald infection
When all of the above has been done, check with your vet re use of products such as Betadine, Phenol or Nolvasan to help kill off the rain scald organism in the horse's skin
For more severe cases of rain scald the vet may prescribe the use of antibiotics such as potassium penicillin, procaine penicillin G, sodium ampicillin, streptomycin or gentamycin.
Rain scald treatment can also include Immune-boosting drugs to help the horse's immune system fight off the organism.