What is Sweet Itch?
Also called IBH – insect bite hypersensitivity – Queensland Itch, Equine Summer Itch and SSRD or Summer Seasonal Recurrent Dermatitis, Sweet Itch in horses, ponies and donkeys is an allergic response to the saliva in the bite of – mainly – midges (the Culicoides midge) and also – in smaller part – to the black fly, horn fly and stable fly. The allergic reaction causes intense itching.
The itching is followed by an autoimmune over-reaction as the immune system attempts to sort out the original mistake. This results in ulceration and thickening of the skin. The allergy and the autoimmune response are both caused by immune system dysregulation, according to Professor John Stanford, Scientific Director of BioEos Ltd.
Since there is no cure for Sweet Itch once lesions have appeared the only remedy for this affliction is one of prevention – keeping the midges off – and treatment to ameliorate the itching and discomfort. For the latest on research and to read more about Sweet Itch: http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2015/07/03/cure-closer-sweet-itch-horses/#axzz4C84BGFTG
Prevention of sweet itch in horses
- A good midge repellent is essential — your vet will be able to guide you on this
- Many horses can be controlled by being moved to a hilltop field. Small midge breeding areas, such as water troughs, need to be cleaned often
- Stable your horse from about 4pm to 8am when midges are at their worst. Using insect-proof mesh on the windows and door of stables may help
- Keep your horse’s skin covered using an ear to tail rug designed to help prevent the condition
- Use strong ceiling fans in stables as midges cannot fly against a strong air current
- Carry out medicated treatment on a daily basis, otherwise the midges will start to bite which triggers the itch/scratch cycle
- Although there is no clinical research available, anecdotal evidence from owners of horses suffering from sweet itch suggests feed supplements can help
- Homeopathic remedies vary according to the symptoms: Vet Nick Thompson suggests if your horse is restless with the condition, over-sensitive to midges, flies and general irritations, and appears worse at night, Arsenicum album may be useful. If your horse has a greasy, smelly coat and does not seem to be too sensitive, but benefits from cool bathing, then try using Sulphur
- Speak to your vet for guidance on remedies and the correct dosage
It’s important to remember every horse responds differently to therapy. What suits your friend’s horse may not suit yours. An insect repellent, or supplement, which keeps off midges from one horse may be ineffective with another.
In store at the moment, we have 10% off a very wide range of midge repellents and also head to tail fly rugs and masks. Our fly repellent range includes:
Sources: http://www.sweet-itch.org/ ; http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2015/07/03/cure-closer-sweet-itch-horses/#axzz4C84BGFTG ;