Sweet itch is a chronic skin condition also called by the names Culicoides hypersensitivity, summer dermatitis or seasonal equine dermatitis. Triggered by the saliva of biting midges or gnats, also called “no-see-ums,” only some horses have a heightened response to the bite, reports The Horse.
Culicoides typically live near water and feed in the evenings; the different species of insects bite horses in different areas of their bodies, including the mane and tail, face, legs or center of the belly. Horses can either develop an immediate reaction to the bite, which presents as hives, or they may have a delayed reaction that takes place 24 to 48 hours after the bite.
Many horses have both types of reactions. While there is the option of a customized vaccine for horses that have immediate reactions, the main way to help a horse is management. Ways to help a sensitive horse include:
- Using an insect repellent, not just insecticide
- Outfitting horses in fly sheets and fly masks
- Stabling horses an night and turning on fans
- Keeping horses away from water where midges breed
Read more about sweet itch at The Horse.
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