Horse Health & Hoof Care Horse Health & Hoof Care

Mud Fever & Rain Scald - an increasing problem

Cracked heels, greasy heels, mud fever, rain scald, rain rot

 - are largely caused by the same  organism dermatophilus congolensis, but can be complicated by secondary invasions of other organisms into the primary lesion.

The irritation and infection causes the skin to weep, which then dries onto the hair forming scabs and tufting of the hair. It is usually seen on the lower limbs (mud fever, greasy heels, cracked heels) and on the belly, the back & the quarters where it is called rain scald or rain rot.

The organism is a bacterium that is known to thrive in damp, muddy conditions.   If it becomes established on the horse’s skin it will infect the surrounding area and cause variable degrees of inflammation. This initial infection creates prime conditions for secondary infection and can lead to ringworm or even septicaemia if not managed promptly. If you suspect these consult your veterinary surgeon without delay.

The dermatophilus organism forms spores that can survive in the ground, stable or horse’s coat for months or even years, until suitable conditions allow it to develop. The spores need moisture and warmth for their development – with autumn & winter in the UK becoming warmer and wetter is it any wonder that mud fever and rain scald are on the increase?

Such conditions can be exacerbated by covering with rugs etc for extended periods. Prolonged covering or bandaging of legs can also provide a warm moist environment which enable the bacteria to establish themselves and thrive.

The Equitech range of Mud Stop products have been formulated specifically to deal with mud fever and rain scald.  They:

  • are non-greasy (whilst barrier-type greases & creams may help keep out water they may also seal in the bacteria and moisture seeping from the damaged tissue. Greases also tend to bind further mud and dirt and potentially encourage an environment where bacteria can continue to flourish,  they can also be messy to remove)
  • are designed to help reduce and control the water activity, supporting rather than blocking the natural flow of moisture
  • contain antibacterial disinfectants, to keep the area clean and make any accumulated debris easier to remove
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