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Mud Fever, Mud Rash and Rain Scald are dermatophiloses caused by the actinomycete Dermatophilus congolensis (a gram-positive facultative anaerobic actinomycete bacterium). Prolonged rainfall and warm temperatures reduce the normal superficial protective factors of the skin and predispose horses to clinical lesions. Because Aloeride boosts the normal superficial protective factors of the skin, feeding Aloeride is a sensible, preventative move for mud fever, mud rash and rain scald. The loss of the sebaceous film layer on skin is thought to predispose the animal to development of the disease. You can change that.

“I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you a bit my beautiful Charlie! Charlie is my cheeky 5 year old gelding, who I had great plans for (Seems Charlie didn’t). In the short time I have had him (18 months), he has managed to get stuck in some fencing requiring expert removal (By our local farmer and friends) and a nice vet’s bill and time off. Then he developed mud fever which just wouldn’t go – despite trying everything! I decided to put him on Aloeride because we tried everything and its worked brilliantly! Charlie’s hair is growing back! The skin on his legs is healthy and there is even hair growth. We do protect his legs with barrier cream but this never stopped it before and also hair is growing back over his scars from the fence incident! He is turning into a really handsome boy (Well I would say that being his mum LOL) and his coat just gleams with good health! I’m hoping to get him out to a few shows under saddle this year – so fingers crossed he can keep himself out of trouble!!” Cathy Wright

Where does Dermatophilosis come from

Dermatophilus‘ natural habitat is controversial, it is hypothesised that soil could act as a temporary reservoir for the organism. When heavy rain makes the soil soggy, splashes of infected soil transfer Dermatophilus to your horse’ lower limbs. Mud fever ensues if superficial protective factors are insufficient (mud fever a.k.a. mud rash or pastern dermatitis). In respect of exposure, try not to let your horses stand in muddy or flooded paddocks. Oedema, pain and lameness may accompany the mud fever/mud rash. With horses grazing, sadly soil-based Dermatophilus can affect the muzzle also. Rain scald affects the loin, croup and saddle areas. These are muscular and thus warm areas that make attractive lodgings for Dermatophilus when damp. Because Dermatophilus can survive in the skin of horses that are clinically normal (thus potentially acting as a source of infection once favourable conditions -damp heat- are present), isolation of affected horses is definitely wise. Just as this is wise in equine influenza. So, look out for primary papules (transient lesions) that become serous exudates, hair with tufted appearance, lesions with irregular elevated crust like paintbrushes (see header picture). Once there is a skin defect, secondary infection with Staphylococcus spp. or fungal organisms (dermatophytes) may occur.

Feed to make antibacterial lipids

Feeding Aloeride helps horse skin (e.g. mud fever etcetera) - click to enlarge image


Some skin surface lipids are synthesised in the epidermis (carried to the surface as cells differentiate, these cells should contain ‘defensive nutrients’ e.g. antimicrobial properties of Zn2+ or Copper-containing proteins) whereas others are secreted onto the surface from the sebaceous glands. In humans one such group is Free Sphingoid Bases which are known to have broad antimicrobial activity. Most remarkably, one of these fatty acids (sapienic acid, C16:1Delta6), in combination with a low concentration of ethanol, is very effective against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In fact, this combination was far more effective than Mupirocin (a gold standard for activity against MRSA) with or without ethanol*. The equivalent fatty acid in your horse’s sebum is Palmitoleic acid, an omega-7 monounsaturated fatty acid. This example should make you appreciate how important it is to have nutrient-laden rather than waste-laden cells being carried to the surface… A 10-week Selly Oak Hospital trial in Birmingham was carried out with both Copper and control surfaces in the same ward. Median numbers of bacteria recovered from surfaces of copper-containing items were between 90% and 100% lower than those from control surfaces. An abundance of inorganic minerals in feed allows these defence helpers to be carried to the surface… We coined the term Safer By Sebum and that is precisely how Charlie got over his long standing problem.

Aloeride optimising nutrition on the inside + helpful hygiene on the outside = robust skin heath and coat health. Click here to read more. Do you remember the adage “a shiny horse is a healthy horse”? Well, this is true ONLY if the oils that a horse ingests and constructs are health-promoting. What is always true is “a healthy horses is a shiny horse” and precisely that is what Aloeride promotes.

Mud Fever, Mud Rash and Rain Scald Tips

  • Grooming is the time to spot the primary lesions.
  • Once there are secondary lesions (crusts, matted hair, skin defects exudation), be very gentle. Avoid vigorous grooming (pain) and over-washing (more wet stuff reducing the normal superficial protective factors). Take extra care drying off.
  • Isolate horse(s) that are affected, yes this may mean stabling which requires additional feeding care. Minimise the risk of exposure.
  • Hospital type of external wound hygiene: rinse with a mild disinfectant 1) 2–3% Chlorhexidine solution applied as a spray or rinse, a broad-spectrum biocide effective against Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria and fungi or 2) Povidone Iodine Solution, a water-based liquid as a spray after the area has been cleaned and dried, no rinsing necessary. Povidone Iodine Solution does not irritate the skin and can be used under a bandage. Avoid shampoos as these wash away the superficial protective factors of the skin. Do not apply creams, lotions and emollients if there is a risk of trapping the actinomycete Dermatophilus congolensis under it.
  • Hygiene Hygiene Hygiene! Periodically disinfect all your equipment, gear and also the stable/yard surfaces to clear dermatophilus spores. Should you be tempted to bandage your horse then make sure the skin is clean and dry first.
  • Tea tree oil, sulphur compounds like Potassium Aluminium Sulfate or MSM, manuka honey, aloe vera gel, calendula, hypericum, goose grease, petroleum jelly may be wonderful except that none of these feed your horse’s innate protection. So you never get on top of the problem.
  • Roll and harrow your paddocks to help repair winter poaching damage. Drainage is the biggest issue when faced with land susceptible to poaching. A cheap measure could be to have a local farmer mole plough or deep tine aerate. Although we fully understand not everyone has this luxury, 1 horse should be grazed on a minimum of 1 acre.
  • Effective treatment requires avoidance of prolonged exposure to moisture whenever possible, daily topical application of antibacterial sprays or solutions, feed to increase the normal superficial protective factors of the skin. Note that crusts should be disposed of carefully to avoid further environmental contamination. Parenteral antibiotics may occasionally be required in severe cases.
  • build your horse a shelter If possible, build your horse a shelter. Excessively rainy conditions without appropriate shelter can lead to dilution of this sebaceous layer, thereby increasing the chance of clinical disease. One Aloeride sachet a day can make all the difference to your horse.

* Thematic review series: skin lipids. Antimicrobial lipids at the skin surface.; Drake DR, Brogden KA, Dawson DV, Wertz PW; Journal of lipid research, 2008 Jan;49(1):4-11.

Han van de Braak

Han van de Braak BSc LicAc MCSP MBAcC (Retd.) is a registered healthcare provider who started to make the best possible in aloe vera in 2002. Aloeride aloe vera for Horses and Aloeride aloe vera for People are Soil Association Certified Organic and give you the best in aloe vera at the best price.

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