Saddle-up Answers - Sweet Itch
Sweet Itch has different names - depending on where you
live (Queensland Itch, Summer Itch, Summer Eczema and Seasonal
Dermatitis.. It is caused by an allergic reaction to the bite of
the Culicoides flies (also called midges and ‘no-see-ums’).
The flies are in fact a very small midge
that breed son wet land, and around rivers, lakes and standing
water. They are most active in the morning and the
evening. Although they can 'irritate' all horses, not all horses
develop the allergic reaction. Those that do suffer weeping
blisters, followed by crusting, scabs and scaling. There is
constant rubbing and biting which results in hair loss and
damage to the skin.
I have used a Boett Blanket -
on a fairly mild case of Sweet-Itch. I found it to be effective,
especially for the mane area, less so for the tail. My horse used to
stand with his head in a bush to escape the midges, he didn't do that
once he had the Blankett on, and if I had to take it off during the
day for repair or washing, he was so pleased to get it back on!
Although very easy to repair (and the suppliers were extremely helpful
regards supplying spare fabric etc), it did spend quite a lot of time
on the sewing machine, as it will tear on trees and the like. I don't
have barbed wire in my field, but goodness knows what that would do to
one! They say it would last a gelding two years - my lad wasn't
particularly big or rough, but I don't reckon it would have done a
second complete summer. Some insurance companies will allow you to
claim for them. Mine wouldn't (Agricultural Insurers) as they said it
was a prevention not a treatment!
I found Ainsworths, the Homeopathic
Suppliers very helpful, and I also found Equine America's ItchNoMore
to be the most effective topical solution to use. I did try numerous
others, some very expensive, and some which claimed to paralyze the
jaws of the midge, break its breeding cycle, last a week etc, but none
of them were effective enough to justify the expense of using them in
the sort of amounts I would have needed to control the problem.
ItchNoMore was very good, and I also found it great diluted as a
general fly repellant which I use on my other non-sweet itch horses.
Hope this helps! Don't use the
cortisone/steroid injection -laminitis is worse than the problem you
are trying to solve!