Over the past five years, vet Stephen Ashdown has written many articles, spoken on equine matters and contributed widely to horse magazines.

Here he reproduces in the form of questions and answers about 100 topics, all of them common problems which afflict horses.

To access Topics click on Vet Advice Menu.

Q: What is rain scald and how is it treated?

A: Rainscald is a skin infection caused by bacteria called dermatophilis. It can occur all over a horses back and sides giving the appearance that rain has scaled the horse. This same bacteria cause mud fever and greasy heel.

Rainscald is caught from other animals who harbour the bacteria in their own coats. The bacteria start to breed when they are able to get into the skin through small bites or scratches in the skin. This happens particularly when it's very wet, and the condition occurs more often after there has been a lot of rain. Treatment of rainscald is not too complicated-it just involves killing off the bacteria with a wash or shampoo and keeping the coat dry.

Antibiotic shampoos can be bought from your vet and have to be used frequently. Ones containing benzoyl peroxide are particularly effective, and Hibiscrub can be used on small areas. If the condition gets very bad your horse may need a course of antibiotics, although this is not very common. Many plant-based products also have an antibiotic action. Tea tree products do a good job with many superficial skin infections, but may not be strong enough for this kind of problem. I favour Ayurvedic products.

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