FIRST RE­SPONSE

Pasterns often be­come crusty and scabby when “mud sea­son” turns pad­docks into soupy messes. But left un­treated, a sim­ple case of scratches can es­ca­late into a painful, chronic con­di­tion.

EQUUS - - Equus - By Lau­rie Bon­ner

Scratches: Pasterns often be­come crusty and scabby when “mud sea­son” turns pad­docks into soupy messes. But left un­treated, a sim­ple case of scratches can es­ca­late into a painful, chronic con­di­tion.

Scratches is the com­mon term for pastern der­mati­tis, an in­flam­ma­tion of the skin that de­vel­ops be­tween the heels and the fet­locks. Af­fected ar­eas be­come scabby and crusty, some­times ooz­ing clear or yel­low­ish serum.

Usu­ally the re­sult of re­peated wet­ting and dry­ing, scratches de­vel­ops when bac­te­ria or fungi in­vade through tiny wounds or cracks in the skin’s sur­face. Although scratches can oc­cur at any time of year, it is seen more fre­quently when horses are turned out in wet en­vi­ron­ments.

You can prob­a­bly treat scratches on your own, and most cases will clear up quickly with proper care. But if your horse de­vel­ops per­sis­tent or se­vere scratches you’ll want to seek your vet­eri­nar­ian’s help.

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