LEAVE SCABS ALONE

EQUUS - - Handson -

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.

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