LEAVE SCABS ALONE
When you find a scurfy spot or scab on your horse’s skin, the urge to pick at it can be compelling. Resist that urge. There’s usually no benefit to picking at your horse’s skin and doing so can make the condition worse.
Scabs are nature’s bandages. They form to help keep bacteria out of wounds and create a “scaffold” of sorts for new skin to form on. Removing scabs prematurely can increase the risk of infection and slow healing. Picking at wounds can also encourage scar tissue to form.
Scurf and scabs that cling tightly to the skin can be very painful when picked at. Trying to remove the scabs associated with scratches, for instance, is likely to cause a horse to react dramatically, putting you at risk of being kicked. Rainrot has similarly tight scabs. Attempting to remove them by simply picking at them will be a dangerous, miserable experience for both you and your horse. For these, ask your veterinarian for help.
There are a few occasions when it might be helpful to remove a scab on your horse. For instance, topical antibiotic ointments will sometimes be more effective when scabs are removed. In these cases, coat the scab with a thick layer of ichthammol, petroleum jelly or another emollient for a day. This will soften the scab and it should wipe away easily with a towel. You can then apply any topical treatments as necessary.