My mare has some large crusty bumps on her udder, under her chin, on her chest and in her armpits.
They look like they weep and crust over and some of them look like they form a big patch bump. There are a couple of small crusty bumps on her forehead as well.
Do you know what this could be and what I can use to get rid of it?
Thank you for your question regarding crusts on your mare.
Most of the time a crust (if properly identified as such) is not a critical issue for concern, even if common bacteria exist. There are only a few specific issues that would require immediate attention by your vet (diseases with deformed red blood cells, spore/hyphae presence, serious blistering/sloughing, or ringworm); otherwise the presence of crusts is normally not a significant problem.
I always find it easiest to start at the beginning when looking for the source of a problem. The skin, being the largest organ of your horse’s body, is used for both protection and detoxification. All the tiny pores in the skin are capable of expelling toxins and waste material.
This is good news because the skin can assist the kidneys, whose primary job is to release toxins. Basically if the kidneys can’t keep up, the skin can jump in and expel debris and toxins as well. It is a wonderful support for your horse if kept in balance. Let’s look at what a crust actually is: a consolidated mass composed of various combinations of keratin, serum, cellular debris and, sometimes, microorganisms.
Crusts are further described as:
a) serous - mostly serum (yellow in color)
b) hemorrhagic - mostly blood
c) cellular - inflammatory cells
d) serocellular - a combination of inflammatory cells and serum
e) palisading - changes in skin thickness accompanied by pus
1. Keratin - hard (hair) or soft (skin) protein fiber that has a high sulfur content, and also contains carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorus.
2. Serum - the part of whole blood remaining after blood has clotted.
3. Cellular debris - simply waste or toxins being expelled.
4. Microorganisms - may be bacteria (and occasionally yeasts or fungi). Their job is to live harmoniously together, but various factors can affect this harmony such as pH, moisture, fatty acid levels, salinity, and albumin levels.
5. Epidermis - the outermost layer of the skin, also called the cuticle or scarf skin. Skin has 6 layers. The outermost layer (the stratum corneum, also called the horny layer), contains tightly packed scale-like cells that are naturally shed and replaced.
HYDROTHERAPY is an excellent, inexpensive yet effective tool against crusts. Often we forget water can be a wonderful therapy for horses. Cool therapy - Perfect for crusts as it helps to gently remove the crusts (and other surface debris), as well as greatly reducing possible further disease or infection by cleaning and rehydrating the skin.
Cool therapy also helps reduce itching, promotes new surface skin cells, and minimizes pain and burning. This process decreases blood flow and restricts the capillaries.
In contrast, warm therapy increases lymph flow, blood flow, tissue oxygenation, and causes vasodilation.
Allowing an outward visible glimpse, the skin can be a window to the inside.
If we watch closely, there are always signs of wellness vs. illness. A healthy horse has good energy and bright, clear eyes; their weight is balanced and correct; they have good temperament; no problems with digestion and healthy skin and a shiny coat. Crusts may be a symptom of possible illness or an indicator that preventive measures may be needed to avoid future issues.
Take notes on duration, location and size of the crusts.
It may be a simple seasonal matter or allergy. In time, your mare may naturally complete her toxic purge and clear off the crusts. If the crusts persist, I would certainly walk the pasture looking for possible allergens your mare may be encountering. Each affected body part may be coming in contact with a toxic plant that your mare is allergic to. If it were my horse I would use cool hydrotherapy (possibly with added aloe vera and/or tea tree to the sprayer). I would also follow with topical application of the same, or alternate with Equilite’s Sore No More Massage Shampoo healing arnica-based solution (several easy-to-use options like liquid, gel, mask etc.).
Make sure your mare has ample clean water, a pollutant free environment and well balanced nutritional support.
The crusts could be an internal issue, possibly malnutrition or mal-absorption. I would review my horse’s diet, opting for a more natural approach of free graze organic pasture grasses and oats for daily maintenance. Here at the rescue I support the liver and kidney (with Silver Lining’s #27 and #37) then use a good immune boost (from Equilite's Citrus C/Q or Garli+C or something from Silver Lining). Once the liver is supported to filter the toxins and the kidney is assisted to pass the toxins, the immune system can be strengthened overall. For my horses, this is a minimum once a year program. There is simply no way to avoid stresses and toxins regardless of your tenacity.
Thank you for your question. I hope I have offered some options for you and your mare.
Shari Frederick Healthy Horse HintsTM
References and Suggested Support Reading: Medical Dictionary by R. E. Rothenberg MD, FACS Textbook for Professional Estheticians by J. Gerson. Equine Dermatology by D. Scott and D. Miller Jr. Equilite 1-800-942-5483 www.equilite.com Silver Lining Herbs 1-866-543-6956 www.silverliningherbs.com