This condition can be considered as frustrating in Autumn / Winter as Sweet Itch is during the summer.
Rain Scald and Mud Rash can be considered under the same headings as they are the same bacterial skin infection caused by Dermatophilus Congolensis separated only by the area of the body affected. It is bacteria which multiply rapidly in conditions of low oxygen, which is what is formed when mud and wet hair are in close contact with skin. As the bacteria multiplies it causes superficial damage to the skin and the characteristic thick, tightly attached scabs which, when removed, invariably have the hairs still involved giving a “paint brush” appearance.
The disease affects the back and flanks causing scabs, hair loss and pain and similar signs on the limbs which can progress to massive swelling and lymphangitis.
As with a large number of conditions in our horses and ponies, prevention is better than cure. Animals prone to rain scald / mud rash should ideally be stabled during persistent wet and cold weather. If this is really not possible then affected horses and ponies should have a suitable turnout rug and barrier cream applied to the legs, especially areas of pink skin which are more susceptible to the disease.
If, despite these precautions, your horse or pony comes down with either of these disorders the first priority is to get them stabled. It will not recover in the wet.
Mild to moderate cases will recover when kept dry and the scabs removed. Bear in mind this is a painful condition and picking the scabs will probably be resented! The application of vegetable oil to soften the scabs before picking will help which should then be washed off and the affected area dried. Severe cases may need antibiotics and painkillers in the short term but the scabs still need to be removed.
There are several conditions which look similar and if you are in any doubt please telephone for advice – it is free!