Horses skin diseases: Fungi, Warts, Chewing Lice, etc. - Part 1


These days, horses often get skin diseases. Usually, they are caused by aggressive grooming products, rugs or being kept in stabling systems not really adapted to the horse's needs. Lack of exercise, environmental influences, stress and an unsuitable diet can also contribute to skin diseases. In part 1 of this series, we take a closer look at the horse's skin.

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In order for us to understand how skin diseases develop in horses, we first have to understand the structure and function of the skin: It consists of epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The skin is the main barrier between the organs and the environment.

The Skin

  • Protects the organs and muscles.

  • Regulates the body temperature by sweating: The evaporating water cools the horse.

  • Controls the water balance.

  • Keeps germs and other intruders away.

  • Pigmentation protects against UV-radiation​.

Equipped with thousands of nerve cells, the skin lets the horse feel the lightest touch such as the landing of a fly or mosquito.

There are about 12 different species of bacteria and about 31 types of fungi on the top layer of the horse’s skin. They are absolutely necessary to keep the skin healthy and happy.

Just like our skin, the horse skin must be in balance in order to stay healthy.

Horses can get different skin diseases. Non-contagious skin diseases are nettle rash or the sweet itch. Other skin diseases are caused by viruses (equine sarcoid), bacteria (scabies, mallenders), molds and parasites (mites and chewing lice). However, fungi and germs can only thrive on the skin if its natural balance is damaged. All the more reason to think about a proper grooming routine for your horse.


Always remove sweat and any remaining dirt thoroughly, especially if the horse doesn't have the possibility to roll after riding. However, 10 minutes of grooming per day is sufficient. If you brush too frequently or too intensively, you can harm the skin by brushing off the natural sebum layer of the skin.

The skin is the largest organ of a horse, and it does pretty much the same as people’s. It regulates temperature, provides a barrier and also ensures the sense of touch.

Be especially careful if your horse has a metabolic disease like ECS (Cushing), Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) or PSSM. It is all the more important to use natural grooming products on sensitive horses in order to not damage the immune system further.

Simply put, the more natural we keep our horses and the less toxins we use, the less poison is absorbed into the horse’s system, hence supporting and strengthening the immune system. In addition to the liver, the skin is greatly responsible for the release of toxins from the body.

Knowing all this, you can now make the right choice for your next grooming products. To give your horse a bath we recommend our Kikolily HorseWash (coming soon to our shop!). It contains only natural ingredients, no preservatives or synthetic substances. It is also biodegradable and environmentally (super)friendly!

Did you find this article useful? In the second part, we talk more about the most common skin diseases. In the meantime, you can download our free e-book "Detox for your horse" on our new website www.kikolily.com.

Have fun grooming your horse! Nicole

#horseskin

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Nicole Anhalt

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