Fungal dermatitis, often referred to as “dermatophytosis”, “rain rot”, “scratches”, or “dew poisoning”, is a common problem in horses living in the southeast, especially during the warm and wetter months of the year. The presence of fungal organisms on your horse’s skin can cause irritation, itching, and even open sores. Once an area in the skin becomes compromised or open it invites more opportunistic fungal organisms, which further accentuate the infection. Fungal infection of the subcutaneous tissues can result in considerable swelling, pain, and lameness. It is also important realize that even skin which appears normal may be infected.

Immune status appears to play a role in the horse’s susceptibility to fungal infection, as ill and/ or metabolically compromised horses tend to be more commonly and severely affected.

In order for treatment to be successful, it must effectively:

  • Kill the fungal organisms
  • Eliminate itching and scratching (which further traumatizes the skin)
  • Eliminate inflammation and pain in the affected and surrounding tissues
  • Quickly heal open wounds/ sores
  • Prevent opportunistic fungus and bacteria from reinfecting the skin

The Atlanta Equine Clinic has developed a treatment protocol which attempts to accomplish all of these goals. For treatment of fungal dermatitis, we recommend:

  1. Applying a heavy lather of AEC Antifungal Shampoo to the entire horse. The shampoo is very concentrated, so only a small amount of the shampoo (with lots of water) is required. Let the shampoo sit for 15 minutes.
  2. After 15 minutes, rinse your horse with warm water. Dry all areas thoroughly.
  3. Once your horse is completely dry, apply a THIN layer of AEC Antifungal Ointment or AEC Antifungal Spray to heavily affected areas and all open sores.
  4. Repeat every 5 days as necessary.
  5. If fungal infection persists/ recurs after 2-3 consecutive treatments, we recommend systemic treatment with an immunostimulant, such as EqStim®. Call the office and we will gladly ship you a dose with instructions for administration.

Since fungus is ever present in the environment, reinfection during certain times of the year is common.

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