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Discussion on Treating scratches (mud fever, dew poisoning, grease heel)

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Cathy Cozier
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 15, 1999 - 10:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

What are the various treatments for scratches? What have you found to be the most effective? Can anything be done to improve the condition of hind legs with permanent damage due to the swelling? I have heard that some horses end up with permanently swollen legs?!?
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Chris Mills
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 15, 1999 - 12:48 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've had good luck cleaning the area thoroughly, drying with a towel and applying Desenex (found in the baby section at your local drug store) daily.

It also helps to get the horse in a dry stall for part of the day, too.

Dr. O must have an article on this in his articles section.

Good luck.
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Diane B.
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 15, 1999 - 12:51 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

When I found my mare, heavy in foal, with two very bad greasy heels and swelling up to her hips, I hosed the legs down with cold water, cleansed the heels with Hibiclens and applied Neosporin, both products out of my family's medicine cabinet. Two applications in two days was all that was needed.
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The Advisor Vet, RN Oglesby DVM
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 16, 1999 - 8:08 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello All,
Reading Cathy's posts in other sections suggest she may be dealing with cannon scurf (greasy exudate with the hair coming off embedded in scabs probably caused by dermatophillus) than grease heel (painful open wounds and crusts on the heels and back of the pastern frequently, but not always, caused by Staph). The treatment for the two conditions can be very similar though there are some differences, particularly in refractory cases. You know Chris, though we have addressed grease heel dozens of times on this board over the years we still had no article on it. I felt so bad about this I wrote one this morning and it is posted in the skin disease section.
DrO
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Cathy Cozier
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 16, 1999 - 10:58 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

OK, this mystery is getting worse.

DrO-I took the advice you gave me in the Endocrine Disorders section to heart. I am trying to attack each of my mare's symptoms individually. Thus, I wanted to know about the various treatments for scratches. I am trying to reduce the inflammation in her legs.

I had the vet out AGAIN and she told me AGAIN that these little bumps that you can pick off with your finger are not dermatophillus. That would probably explain why I haven't seen any improvement treating with Betadine. There isn't any greasy exudate either.

I clipped her legs very short and was surprised to see lots of marks (scratches) and raised rough lumpiness along the cannon area. There aren't very many of those little bumps in this area. The whole area is like a tree trunk. The vet said it "could" be a Staph infection and suggested treating with a mixture of nitrofurazone, chlorhexidine, desitin, DMSO and mineral oil. She is just as perplexed as me. So many things going on in a seemingly "healthy" horse. I guess that this is yet ANOTHER problem separate from her history of mild stocking up.

So...I was curious to hear what other concoctions people have used to treat scratches.

I may just have to take Alii to the hospital to get to the bottom of this. I am NOT satisfied with her legs remaining like tree trunks.

I will echo the sentiments of other members...this is the best $20 I have EVER spent. Thanks again for all your help and advice. After one year of frustration I finally feel like I may be getting somewhere. :-)
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The Advisor Vet, RN Oglesby DVM
Posted on Thursday, Jun 17, 1999 - 6:49 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Cathy,
Thanks for the kind words. You continue to call it scratches (see discussion above) yet isn't it more like cannon scurf. It is important that we get this accurately named and described so others with this problem can find good advice. I find that most people with long standing problems are not "what is the answer to this question" but that they are asking the wrong question and the reasons nothing has worked.

Lets see, you are getting raised bumps that can be scrapped off that come off in small plagues with hair embedded, leaving behind a shallow sore. I do have that right don't I? If that is not dermatophillus I would sure like to know what it is. If I had doubts I would remove one of the scabs and carefully culture the goo that comes out underneath. I have to also admit being confused by the vets attitude of classic clinical signs but admitting not knowing what it is and yet firmly denying it could be dermatophillus, what am I missing?

I cannot tell you not to do what your vet suggests but we treat difficult (Betadine did not work) cases of dermatophillus by gently soaking off all the scabs with a chlorhexidine based scrub or shampoo (soapy). If the scabs are not removed you cannot get to the organism. Then the affected and surrounding areas are sprayed with a 1/2% solution (not soapy) of chlorhexidine, once daily. During the treatment the horse would be kept dry. Shampoos would be repeated as neccasary to remove scabs.
DrO
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Cathy Cozier
Posted on Thursday, Jun 17, 1999 - 10:43 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

DrO-Yes the small bumps are exactly like you described but they are only on the upper part of her leg. The lower area is different. There are no small bumps in the cannon area. The cannon area is/was ENORMOUS and you could not even feel any soft tissue (tendons, etc.) under the skin. The legs felt like tree trunks.

I have the small bumps on the upper leg under control. I did exactly what you described above (Chlorhexidine scrub/removal of all scabs). The lower leg has what seems to be something different. The entire skin area over the lower leg feels hard and lumpy. The lumps are not removable, more like one huge area of uneven hardness. I mean REALLY HARD. I can see scratch marks over the whole area yet this horse has not scraped up her legs. The ointment mixture I mentioned above did wonders in the first 24 hours. The skin felt softer and for the first time in 1 year I could feel the tendon that runs along the back of her lower hind legs. The swelling was significantly decreased.

I believe I am getting somewhere. I don't know what to call these skin problems. The vet referred to the small bumps on the upper part of the leg as pyroderma (sp???). The lower part of the leg is a mystery but this ointment seems to be helping.

She is in a much larger in and out stall now. This helps a great deal also.

Thanks again! I can't tell you what a relief this is.
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The Advisor Vet, RN Oglesby DVM
Posted on Friday, Jun 18, 1999 - 4:40 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Pyoderma is a term for bacterial skin infections that produces pus or pustules. Good luck and glad to hear the horse is doing better. If the problem does not continue to improve try a biopsy and I would love to know the results.
DrO
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Nadine Snyder
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 22, 1999 - 12:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

In Sun Valley, Idaho, scratches have become epidemic! Many of our performance horses have them, and some have chronic outbreaks. Lots of sun, extreme heat and cold, winter and spring dampness could be contributing. Tried all fungal shampoos out there, removing scabs, tried miconozole, betadine, neosporin and bacitracin. ANYBODY?????
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The Advisor Vet, RN Oglesby DVM
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 22, 1999 - 7:41 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Scratches is almost never fungal. I find people mean different things when they say scratches, can you describe, in detail what you are looking at including how it started?
DrO
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Nadine Snyder
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 23, 1999 - 11:59 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

They are crusty sores that can be seen from the coronary band up to the pastern. One horse has it even higher. Our excellent local vet has called them scratches, so I assume that's what they are. They can start with one small sore. that sore may remain for a year or so, exactly the same, and then explode into a huge one, or many small ones. Some just go away with standard treatment, some explode, and yes, all are on white feet. One of my horses had one sore go from tiny to the size of a quarter overnight. That one is almost gone, but has left behind proud flesh. That one responded to betadine, miconozole and bacitracin. ηκݐ—π throwing ev`hing in my medicine stash at this stuff! Thanks for any help. Nadine
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The Advisor Vet, RN Oglesby DVM
Posted on Thursday, Jun 24, 1999 - 6:46 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Nadine,
That certainly is what I call scratches. Many cases of scratches are related to a staph infection and have a allergic reaction component to the metabolites of the staph.

The key to any treatment is keeping the area clean and dry. Many report success using Desenesx which is inexpensive and easily got. However when you have a tough case or if the Desenex fails, I strongly recommend Panalog Creme (not ointment). It has a wide spectrum antimicrobial activity and a powerful corticosteroid to counteract the allergic reaction. The panalog creme is applied sparingly to affected areas then rubbed into the skin and sores until it dissapears. This leaves the area clean, dry, and medicated. Treat twice daily.

Since the white skin areas are being affected you need to be sure you are not dealing with plant induced photosensitivity. Pyrrolizidine containing plants (Crotolaria, Heliotropium, Amsinckia, and Senecio) cause a acute liver problem that sometimes manifests itself as skin disease, with the white areas affected. Some ways to help differentiate them is that the photosensitivity will effect upper areas of the body tha are white and jaundice may be present. We have article on both of these conditions with more information.
DrO
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Joy Drost
Posted on Thursday, Jul 22, 1999 - 8:40 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have a gray mare that is VERY prone to scratches. As a matter of fact, even when the scratches are gone I treat her heels because they come back so quickly. I have a recipe that was giving to me by a friend and it works great.

1/2 lb. (1/2 jar) Furacin Ointment
2 tubes of Desitin (don't use the store brand)
1 tube of Panalog
1 tube of a triple antibiotic ointment
12 cc of Dexamethasone

I wash her heels out daily with cold water and then dry them with a towel. Then apply the mixture. I do this everytime she goes out of then barn to jog and before she goes back into her stall. It works great.
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claire sidebottom
Posted on Monday, Sep 13, 1999 - 4:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

what are the symptoms of cannon scurf? I have been struggling with itchy skin on my mare since we bought her and this sounds like it might be it. She had had mud fever and rainscald before we had her and was clipped because she had lice. Within a few days of arrival she had started to scratch her hind legs together. She doesn't have a problem with the fronts and has 4 white legs. She can tangle her legs to scratch the outside like she is doing ballet! I thought it was mud fever but having clipped all the feather - which I didnt want to do - it isn't any better and it is not the heel but mostly higher up the leg that she scratches. Her skin seems quite flaky on her legs. She has had scraped raw patches on and off for the last five months. I have tried antibacterial washes, sulphur ointment, udder cream etc. Any advice much appreciated.
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Admin
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 14, 1999 - 6:40 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Claire,
Move your discussion into its own discussion in this forum. If you are uncertain how to do that, back up to the Forum using the navigation bar at the top of this page. On the page you will see start a New Discussion button to press and that will allow you to create a brand new discussion.
Admin
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Cheryl Leavitt
Posted on Friday, Nov 26, 1999 - 9:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I would like to know what is now being recommended for the treatment of a severe case of scratches that won't go away. This particular horse has been suffering with the problem for about five months, on and off again. Originally, I clipped the legs and scrubbed them with betadine scrub, applied Panalog ointment and even wraped her legs in Corona. None of these treatments have worked very well. Presently, I am using a 50/50 mixture of betadine ointment and dermacleanse with DMSO and 12cc of Dex added. This has worked to reduce the swelling and remove the scabbing. However, the benefits have not lasted.

It appears that it is primarily on the white socks and seems to be photosensitive. The condition has now seemed to spread to three other horses, all of which are not responding any better. I know that there are several other reasons for scratches besides continual over exposure to moisture. One of which could be related to feed the horses are eating or the possibility of a liver problem. I would like to know how to best identify the source or sources of my on going problems.

I have exhausted all of my known options for treating scratches. Whatever the cause is I need to know how to eliminate the problem. It has effected the training of these horses and if it persists for much longer it will interfere with their performance in the 2000 show season.

I look forward to any new feedback that you can offer.
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Administration
Posted on Saturday, Nov 27, 1999 - 3:24 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Cheryl,
Instead of posting your question at the bottom of someone elses discussion you should create your own. You will get more responses and it helps others find related information better. This is the appropriate forum for your topic, so just back up to the Scratches, Grease Heel, Dew Poisoning, & Mud Fever Page where all the discussions are listed. The easiest way to do this is using the navigation bar at the top of this page and selecting it. Once there take the time to read the article on this disease. Then return and post any questions you might still have.
Administration
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Marion Dickinson
Posted on Saturday, Nov 27, 1999 - 6:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'd like to jump on this bandwagon for a second. I had a horse that was very prone to what you're calling scratches (semantics?). I agree with Dr. O. that Panlog did the trick for me. (Desenex is messy and attracts shavings and dirt) I did use the Panalog ointment rather than the cream and am interested to know why the cream is a better choice. Whatever caused my horse's problem, it was an ongoing thing. I had to continue to keep on top of it or else the problem would return. So, I would put on panlog routinely--needed or not.

Before I found Panalog, I tried Betadine and ended up burning the legs and causing blistering, swelling and pain.

In my specific case, I deduced that when I rode in my sand/stone dust arena, the sand (sometimes wet) would splash onto the back legs, breaking open just enough entry for the bateria (or whatever causes scratches) to enter. I found that if I kept the back legs covered with polos during my ride and kept the legs dry all the time, the problem was easier to control.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Posted on Sunday, Nov 28, 1999 - 9:21 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yes Marion,
the cream is in a vanishing base, so it is even less gooey that the ointment.
DrO
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Jaime Justicia
Posted on Wednesday, Feb 9, 2000 - 7:37 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Here in Puerto Rico we have a lot of mud fever,scratches and/or greasy heels. What have work for me and my customers is to scrub the infected leg/s with betadine scrub with the leg dry and rinse with a clean towel soaked in distilled (white) vinegar. And for greasy heels I mix copper sulfatte (blue stone),a little amount of bleach just to disolve the stone, lemon juice, distilled vinegar and water. This also works for thrush.
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Elizabeth (Eliz)
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2000 - 8:18 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Where do you find Panalog? One of my horses has a persistent case of "scratches" which I have been treating with antiobiotic ointment and Desitin. She has improved although I have observed new crusty areas in spite of keeping her in dry conditions! My vet said he did not have panalog and wasn't sure if it was being made anymore. Thank you.
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Jackie (Charisma)
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2000 - 1:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Elizabeth,
If your vet doesn't carry it you can try calling around to the small animal clinics in your area.
Jackie
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Sheila Prescott-Vessey (Shera)
Posted on Thursday, Aug 31, 2000 - 9:48 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Here's what worked for me. I've just been dealing with my young mare who had a bad case of mud fever on her 3 white socks. I tried the betadine scrub, MANY different ontiments -- nothing worked. The sores just kept getting worse. Finally I tried warm water mixed with moist sea salt, cleaned the sores well (the scabs came off quite easily where before it was a huge chore and I still couldn't get them off), dried her legs VERY well with a clean towel, put a little bit of Hibitane on the raw skin, then loaded Vaseline over the area to protect it. I do that twice a day and there was an immediate difference within 1 day (before that I'd gone over a week without results). It's been 4 days now and there's a huge improvement with her legs. My theory is that the salt water did most of the work. I added the Hibitane for good measure. But definitely the vaseline was a must to protect the raw skin while it tried to heal.
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Linda norton (Norto)
Posted on Friday, Sep 1, 2000 - 9:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have found an alternative to Panalog. I get the prescription from my doctor we have used it over the years for yeast infections and diaper rash. Nystatin and Triamcinolone Acetonide Cream USP This is the generic I think it used to be called Mycolog. Anyhow, had my vet compare them and she said use what is cheaper and lo and behold, it was about one-half the price and my doctor gives me 4 refills, enough for years.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM (Dro)
Posted on Saturday, Sep 2, 2000 - 9:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Linda,
The only problem I see with this is that nystatin is an antifungal. I do not know what its effect against bacteria is and they are frequently a component of scratches.
DrO
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Cheryl Anderson (Canderso)
Posted on Saturday, Sep 2, 2000 - 9:37 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Scratches hit our barn every year in late September. I have a regimen that works quite well - at the first sign of scratches I go into a 2 week routine - every day I wash and scrub the pasterns with anti-bacterial soap (Spectro-Jel), leaving it on for at least a minute before rinsing off. Then I cover the area with furazone then top it off with a thick layer of zinc oxide.

Frankly I am not sure that the furazone does anything, but within 2-3 days the pasterns are clean, and after the two week period, there is no recurrance... until the next year. There are also no scars.

I tried penaten (baby diaper rash ointment) and found that the results were not as fast and the cost was much higher.
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KATHRYN DUNN (Katdunn)
Posted on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 10:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Has anyone used chlorine bleach to cleanse affected area and keep it from reappearing. My husband's horse has grease heal on the rear legs. He mixed epson salts in fairly warm water and soaked each leg for 5 - 10 minutes. He dried them and applied antibiotic ointment. It eventually went away, but has come back, although not as bad. He treated it again and it slowly disappeared and he is now using a 10% chlorine bleach mixture in a squeeze detergent bottle. He squirts it on and leaves it for a little while then dries the area and applies antibiotic ointment. I am concerned that the chlorine will dry out the skin too much and cause cracking and bleeding. Any ideas on that?? I think that he should be rinsing the area before drying.

Thanks, Katie Dunn
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Leah Hinnefeld (Belhaven)
Posted on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 1:56 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have heard of using bleach that scares me abit. I have had success with washing with Dawn AntiBacterial-let sit for 10 minutes and GENTLY remove scabs. Rinse. DRY.

Then slather with Panalog-I wrap with saran wrap to keep it from rubbing off.
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KATIE DUNN (Katdunn)
Posted on Thursday, Jun 6, 2002 - 10:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Okay, who has heard of using sauerkraut on the foot, wrapped in plastic as a remedy for grease heel? A friend said they got that from a vet book. I thought maybe that the vinegar acted as an astringent and the bulk was good packing around the affected area. Dr. O, have you ever heard of this?
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM (Dro)
Posted on Friday, Jun 7, 2002 - 8:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

We have had one other person write to us to say this worked for them. Me, I like it on hotdogs with mustard.
DrO
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Jill F Davis-Curtis
New Member
Username: Goldtwh

Post Number: 1
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Saturday, Jun 19, 2004 - 6:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My palomino has what the vet calls cannon keratosis. Is this scratches? the sores are
primarily above the cannon bone up to the side
of the top of his tail. But, now he is getting
this brown scrunge under his tail bone and it appears to itch him alot. We have tried twice weekly washings with Tar Shampoo, Miconazole, Hydrocortisone, etc. The sores get big crusts on them and the hair falls out and then the sore looks red and will bleed if you remove the crusts. He orginally got this when living in a very humid wet climate, but has been back in a very dry climate for over a year and it is worse than ever. Help!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10671
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 22, 2004 - 9:36 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

No cannon keratosis is not scratches and often confused with dermatophillus of the front of the rear cannons. But your horses lesions on the legs do not sound like cannon keratosis either, perhaps if you could describe the lesions or better post a photo, I would be interested in looking at them.
Concerning the lesions under the tail they do sound like dermatophillus. See, Equine Diseases » Skin Diseases » Rain Rot and Rain Scald: Dermatophillus for diagnosis and treatment.
DrO
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