Over the past five years, vet Stephen Ashdown has written many
articles, spoken on equine matters and contributed widely to horse
Here he reproduces
in the form of questions and answers about 100 topics, all of
them common problems which afflict horses.
Topics click on Vet Advice Menu.
Q I think my pony may have greasy heel. I have recently found
white, scaly scabs on the backs of his knees and fetlocks on his
front legs and all over his hind legs. What is greasy heel, what
causes it and how should I treat it? My pony is a cob gelding who
lives out with access to a stable.
A Greasy heel
is a condition in which the skin becomes infected with a bacterium
called Dermatophilus congolensis. This bacterium also causes mud
fever and sweet itch. The bacteria start to grow when a horse's
skin is wet and is damaged in some way by small scratches or wounds.
Once the bacteria start to grow, they make the skin sore and moist.
Once the infection has set in, it can become quite stubborn and
difficult to treat, although the bacteria are usually sensitive
. Most antibiotic
creams will help to control greasy heel. However, in order to achieve
full recovery, they will have to be used regularly and you must
take steps to improve the condition of the skin. I prefer the use
of herbal products, as they help to get rid of the bacteria while,
at the same time, improving the condition of the skin.
The type of
herbs that work well are cedar root, tea tree and aloe vera. At the same time as external preparations, I often use herbal
supplements that do a similar job from the inside. Some
people also use more simple mixtures of sulphur and pig fat or vegetable
oil to good effect.
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