What is Sweet Itch in Horses and How to help relieve it?

Updated: Jun 27

So in the summer, I hear ALOT of horses suffering from Sweet Itch and what a total nightmare it can be, but what is it?

Sweet Itch is another term for Summer Seasonal Recurrent Dermatitis, it is one of the most common allergic skin conditions in our four-legged friends and can affect any breed of horse and at any age, the allergy starts when an insect bites the horse and the skin of the horse reacts with the protein of the saliva of the insect, it is where the horse's immune system overreacts and attacks its own cells.

What are the symptoms of Sweet Itch?

Sweet Itch usually happens at the base of the mane, top of the tail and on the face, the horse will be incredibly itchy in these areas and will get quite irritated, he or she will use anything to scratch it such as trees, their hind hooves and an increased amount of rolling the field, you may also find some signs of hairs loss and bald spots appear in these areas.

Sadly as Sweet Itch progresses the horse's skin may become sore, inflamed, scaly and flaky, make sure you regularly look out for any broken skin and treat accordingly so it does not become infected if required always seek professional veterinary advice.

5 ways you can help your horse with Sweet Itch

Unfortunately there isn’t as yet a currently no cure for sweet itch but we humans can do a few things to help:

1- Barrier Technique -When the first sign of midges are about you could put a fly rug and mask on straight away to reduce the number of flies landing on your horse, the zebra print rugs have been scientifically proven to be very effective as the black and white print confuses the flies which is why they do not like landing on it.

2- As flies love damp conditions, try taping off and keeping your horse away from moist areas such as boggy areas in the field and slow-moving water.

3- Cleaning the field daily reduces the number of flies hanging around, use a poo pick and scoop as this will save your back and make your life a little easier!

4- Stabling your horse in the day when the flies are about at there peak times and letting them back into there field in the evening and overnight when they are at there lowest.

5- You can help soothe your horse's skin by using sweet itch shampoos and creams, some shampoos already have fly repellent in them or you can use a fly repellent spray or gel separately!

Do you have any other ways you help your horse with sweet itch? If you do then we would LOVE to hear them, send us a message or comment below!

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Upton Saint Leonards



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