What is greasy heel?
- Greasy Heel is a common skin condition affecting the pastern and heel areas especially on horses with white legs where the skin is more sensitive and prone to infection.
- Crusty scabs form in patches on the affected legs. Scabs often crack and weep yellowish, oily sebum and hair in the affected area can become matted and fall out.
- The severity of the condition varies from horse to horse.
- Left untreated the affected legs can become swollen, very painful and the condition may even cause lameness.
- Greasy heel is also called mud fever, dew rot and scratches.
What causes greasy heel?
- Exposure to persistently damp conditions. Heavy dew on long grass can be enough to initiate greasy heel. Skin becomes susceptible to bacterial and fungal infection.
- Irritants found in the soil
- Allergic reaction to grass seeds
- Photosensitivity or sunburn.
- Reaction to irritants in stable bedding
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Once established, the moist, warm area beneath the scabs provides an ideal environment for fungal and bacterial growth.
How can Mudguards help?
PREVENTION is much easier than cure, when it comes to greasy heel. Greasy heel can be costly, time consuming and hazardous to treat.
- Help prevent greasy heel by keeping lower legs cleaner and drier
- Assist by protecting heel and pastern area from direct exposure to irritants such as mud, stable dirt and grass seeds
- Help control dermatitis caused by photosensitivity. Ripstop Mudguards can be worn in dry, sunny conditions. Ripstop Mudguards - for dry weather wear (Recommended when photosensitivity is a problem) are available on request. Please email us for details.
- Allow faster healing of treated fetlocks
- Provide protection for your horse during times of heavy rain and dew
- Simple and effective to use
The mare’s legs pictured above have recovered from persistent greasy heel. Before using Mudguards a number of different treatment regimes were used with varying degrees of success. Mudguards have made ongoing maintenance of the condition a much easier job. Mudguards protect the white areas of the legs from UV, grass seed allergens and dew. During dry weather this mare wears the ripstop Mudguards since photosensitivity appears to play a role in causing her greasy heel.
Handy hints on treating greasy heel
- If your horse is prone to greasy heel be on the alert for conditions that are likely to cause an attack. Act promptly!
- Use a gentle, medicated wash to clean the affected area.
- A long handled sponge/ squeegee dipped in a bucket of warm, soapy water can help to safely treat back legs. Always take care when working on back legs especially if the affected area is painful for the horse.
- Gently rub the affected area to allow the scabs to soften. Leave the solution on the affected area for about 10 minutes before rinsing off. Remove as much of the scabbing as possible since the warm, moist area beneath the scabs harbors infection.
- Use a dry, clean towel to thoroughly dry the affected area. If back legs are a problem to dry try passing a long towel between the back legs, then using a see-saw rubbing action to remove the softened scabs and dry the leg.
- Apply a topical ointment such as Ilium Dermapred as recommended by your vet. Many other creams and ointments are readily available to treat greasy heel. Use as directed then protect the leg with Mudguards.
- Treat daily while the condition persists.
- Check the lining of your Mudguards daily and replace with clean, dry Mudguards if necessary.
- It is well worth having a second set of clean, dry Mudguards ready to change if necessary.
- Be persistent and consistent with your treatment.
- Mudguards, used correctly, can speed up healing and help prevent further attacks.
- Handling horses can be dangerous.
- Always seek professional help if needed.
- DO NOT leave Mudguards on your horse without removing and checking the condition of the legs daily.
- While every care is taken to ensure the product is safe to use, the manufacturer accepts NO LIABILITY for injuries to horses or people and problems resulting from the use of Mudguards.