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sweet itch

I have owned my 8 yr new forest mare for 3 yrs, this autunm she was diagnosed with sweetitch, but it is only on her withers, crest and neck and a small patch on the centre of her face (not her tail at all), She moved home in the summer and the field had hedge all round which she has always got her head stuck in eating the horthorn, also this winter she's has stripped the bark off everthing in the field could this be the problem with her neck(allergy)?.She's been fed this winter=chaff, slim&healthy mix, multi-vit, fresh veg, ad-lib hay and small amounts of haylage.


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Martina Stuart

Sweetitch is an allergic reaction of the skin usually in risponse to the culicoides minge. Like all allergies it takes time to develope and it is more likely that the midge is more prevalent in her new home surroundings than it was in the area she moved from. I think this is more likely than irritation from the hawthorn or reaction to tree bark or sap. I would suggest however that you give some attention to any marginal trace element and vitamin deficiency although you are certainly giving her a good mixed diet. (maybe possibly too 'rich'?).
As far as controling exposure to the midge which comes out at dawn and dusk you need to put her out at 10am and bring her in at 4pm. The stable should have fly screens and fly papers/insecticide strips or lights fitted. Complete fly proof sheets/rugs etc may help as does switch or some similar preparations provided the application is commenced whilst there is still a good covering of hair. I always used to expect the first case of sweetitch on the 15th May. It will vary from area to area and perhaps get earlier with mild winters and global warming. This means that control measures need to start by mid April.
Once the itching starts and the hair cover is lost then barrier creams such as benzyl benzoate will help but these should be combined with the control measures already detailed. Feeding large quantities of garlic, sponging down with cold tea and washing up liquid are also supposed to be of beenfit but I am not convinced. Gamma linoleic acid supplementation (borrage or oil of evening proimrose seems to help in allergic hair loss conditions in other animals so may be worth a try. If it works please tell us all. Good luck.



I'm new here but felt I could contribute something. A friend in USA had a horse with skin problems and used natural Tea Tree products to bathe and put on affected areas after. Within a week there was a noticeable difference.



hi there you will find it really hard to get hold of any benzylbenzoate but if you go to boots the chemist and ask for ascabiol emulsion you will get that which is the same dilute half and half with water and spray on the area twice a day this will halp with the itching use plenty of garlic powder in your feeds you can also buy ditch supplements for your feeds which also work ...also your horse can have injections from your vet but can get a exspensive job ..try these they worked wonders for me hope this helps


lindie and rachael

stuart thanks for all of the informationi tend to look on all of the horse posts so that i can see the advice that you leave for if i have any future problems with my crew thansk


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