What is mud fever? Mud fever also known as pastern dermatitis can be caused by a variety of bacteria, which thrive in muddy, wet conditions.. Wet conditions cause the skin to soften and mud rubs against the softened skin causing abrasions to the surface where bacteria can enter. Mud fever can be painful, and the horse may not tolerate the area being touched. Pink skin under white legs can be more commonly affected compared to dark skin.
Signs of Mud fever The signs you may see are matted areas of skin containing crusty scabs, with lesions beneath. You may also notice heat and swelling.
How do you treat mud fever? it’s really important to try to keep legs dry. You’ll need to wash the affected leg(s) with warm water and a cleansing product such as Lincoln Muddy Buddy Scrub , Lincoln Equo-Scrub or Gold Label Triscrub Wash and rinse it off fully with warm, clean water. After washing and rinsing, you need to dry the area thoroughly. This can be challenging in horses with thick feathers so you may have to consider clipping them to tackle the mud fever successfully. The Clipperman Jewel Trimmer is perfect for tackling such areas .Once your horse’s legs are clean and dry, apply a thick coat of barrier cream, products such as Lincoln Muddy Buddy Ointment , Lincoln Mud Screen , Lincoln Muddy Buddy Magic Mud Kure Powder, NAF Mud Gard Barrier Cream all provide protection in these wet conditions and should be applied to the affected area. Remember: always test a small patch of skin with the cream for 24 hours first. You need to be sure your horse won’t react to any of the ingredients. If you can stable your horse at night, cover the layer of barrier cream (carefully and not too tightly) in cling film. Then apply a stable bandage we recommend the Kentucky Horsewear Repellent Stable Bandages and ensure your horse has clean, dry bedding. Leave the cream, cling film and bandages in place overnight to help loosen the scabs. In the morning you can then gently pick the scabs away, removing as much as possible. Be careful when doing this as the area can be very sore .Apply another thick layer of the barrier cream, without any cling film or bandages, before turning your horse out for the day. The barrier cream will help to prevent the infection getting worse and encourage healing where the scabs have come away. Keep repeating this process until you’ve managed to remove all the scabs. At that stage, you can then leave the area clean, dry and exposed to the air overnight. It’s best to continue using a barrier cream during turnout until the area has healed completely. If you can’t stable your horse overnight when trying to treat mud fever, you won’t be able to use cling film and bandages to soften the scabs. If that’s the case, you’ll still need to wash and dry the area thoroughly on a regular basis. You should then gently remove any scabs you can and apply a fresh layer of barrier cream each time. Make sure you don’t reapply the barrier cream over the top without using a warm diluted cleansing wash and removing the scabs. Doing that would simply create an environment the mud fever can thrive in.
Key points for successfully treating mud fever • The earlier you spot any infection the easier and quicker it should be to treat – so check your horse’s legs daily for signs • Keeping your horse’s legs dry is vital to treating mud fever successfully • Clipping out feathery legs will make it much easier to treat the problem • Make sure you use a warm diluted solutions to wash the affected area, rinse it fully with warm, clean water and dry it thoroughly • Removing scabs is key to starting the healing process • Effective use of a barrier cream prevents further infection and encourages healing • If in any doubt, call your vet!
TIP Try to prevent your paddock from getting badly churned up, as the bacteria are transmitted in the soil. If it’s possible, changing the point at which you enter the field and moving water troughs regularly can be helpful. You could also cover particularly muddy areas with straw or sand.