Sweet Itch in Horses: Causes and Management

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If you’re a horse lover, then chances are you know all too well the struggles of sweet itch. Whether it’s your horse who is affected and spending each summer inside to avoid fly bites, or if you see the unsightly signs on other horses during rides – sweet itch can be an incredibly frustrating condition to manage.

But knowing what causes this common skin disorder in horses is essential for understanding how best to treat it and assessing which risk factors may lead to its development.

Read on to learn more about sweet itch in horses, including potential causes and management strategies so that we can make life easier (and comfier) for our equine friends!

What is the best way to treat sweet itch in horses?

Sweet itch, or summer seasonal recurrent dermatitis (SSRD), is an itchy skin condition found in horses during the warmer months of the year. While there is no cure for sweet itch, there are a variety of ways you can treat it to make your horse comfortable.

Treating the coat and mane should be a priority – careful grooming can help remove any irritants, such as insects and pollen, while oil-based sprays offer extra protection against sunburn in white-haired areas. 

Keeping your horse’s coat short helps air to reach the skin and reduce bacterial buildup, which could lead to an infection exacerbating sweet itch symptoms. Fly repellents and masks can help further protect your horse from foreign bodies that may irritate when in contact with their skin. 

A good healthcare program tailored to your horse’s needs will also work wonders – regular vaccinations and parasite control using wormers will ensure a healthy immune system that can fight against sweet itch more effectively.


What causes sweet itch in horses?

Sweet itch, also known as summer seasonal recurrent dermatitis, is an allergic reaction that is caused by the saliva of small biting insects such as midges and mosquitoes. The bites cause a localized reaction at the site of the bite and in some cases can cause generalized itching of the skin. 

This severe reaction can lead to hair loss, damaged skin, and in some cases extensive scarring. 

Horses with sweet itch are often subjected to a regime of fly repellents and other topical creams and sprays that are designed to reduce the irritating effects of these insect bites and hence minimize the allergic reactions to them. 

To manage sweet itch in horses it pays to be aware of peak biting times for these particular insects and try to avoid exposure during them. 

Looking at ways to improve housing and pasture management also goes a long way in helping control sweet itch in horses as reducing standing water sources where these insects live can significantly reduce their populations.

What is the best antihistamine for horses with sweet itch?

When it comes to helping horses with sweet itch, antihistamines are an absolute must-have in the barn or stable. This skin condition can be frustrating for both horse and owner, as it causes extreme itching in a horse’s sensitive spots. 

Fortunately, many effective antihistamines on the market can provide relief from symptoms. Of all the options available, one of the best antihistamines for horses with a sweet itch is cetirizine hydrochloride. 

Not only does it quickly relieve hives, itching, and swelling caused by allergies, but since it’s a non-sedating drug it doesn’t interfere with the horse’s responsiveness or alertness. 

Cetirizine hydrochloride is also easy to administer since there are various forms of dosage available (for example pellets, oral syringes,s or powder). 

With proper use of this antihistamine and other treatments such as insecticidal shampooing and fly masks, horses affected by sweet itch can experience much-needed relief from their uncomfortable symptoms.

What cream stops horses from itching?

If you’ve ever owned a horse, then you know itching is a common problem. Luckily, there are products on the market that can help keep their coats healthy and itch-free. 

One particularly popular product is Horse Shield cream, which has been proven to provide rapid relief from itchy skin and give your horse’s coat an added layer of protection. This miracle cream works by forming a coating over your horse’s body that helps calm its itching while replenishing the natural oils in its skin. 

Not only will this keep your horse happy, but it will make them look healthier as well! Whether your horse has chronic itching or just needs seasonal relief from dry skin, Horse Shield cream is an excellent solution for keeping them comfortable and their coats looking vibrant.

What home remedy can I use for my horse’s itchy skin?

If your horse is constantly scratching, it could mean its skin is itching. Luckily, there are a few home remedies you can try to help reduce the itchiness and make your horse more comfortable. 

One natural and affordable solution is to give your horse oats, which can help soothe the inflammation. You can also apply a vegetable oil-based moisturizing cream directly to the affected area to provide relief. 

Additionally, consider setting up mosquito netting in your stall and applying insecticides around the barn to reduce the presence of irritating bugs. Finally, make sure they always have plenty of fresh water available. 

Regular grooming with a soft brush or sponge will also help alleviate their discomfort. With just a little extra work and care, you can help keep your horse feeling – and looking – their best!

What parasite causes sweet itch in horses?

Sweet itch is a problematic skin condition commonly found in horses that are caused by small biting flies, called Culicoides midges. These midges lay their eggs on the horse’s coat and when they hatch, the larvae find their way beneath the horse’s skin and begin to feed, producing an allergic reaction in the process and causing intense irritation. 

This is the root cause of sweet itch and it can be quite an uncomfortable experience for the animal involved, leading to rubbing, itching, restlessness, loss of hair, and other associated symptoms. 

As such, it’s important to be aware of sweet itch as a horse owner so that you can effectively monitor your animals for signs of distress and act quickly if necessary.

How do you get rid of a sweet itch on a horse?

Sweet itch on a horse can be a real hassle, as not only does it cause your horse discomfort, but trying to relieve them of their affliction can also be difficult. The most important thing to do is to protect the horse from exposure to insects, especially flies, and midges. 

This means using fly sheets, sprays, and other methods to ward off these bugs. You should also consider avoiding pasture areas that could increase the risk of the sweet itch worsening due to things like long grass or stagnant water created by wetter climates. 

Beyond this, treatments include dealing with any underlying skin issues with creams and ointments that can help reduce inflammation of the skin – but always consult your vet first! Last but not least is managing the horse’s diet; adding in foods rich in fatty acids can help as they can provide hydration to irritated skin while also maintaining coat health.

What is the best product for sweet itch in horses?

When dealing with a sweet itch in horses, everybody wants the best product to take care of the problem. While many products on the market address sweet itch, many of them aren’t as effective as they claim to be. 

Fortunately, there’s still hope out there if you want a reliable solution! A great product on the market that is proven to help alleviate the symptoms of sweet itch in horses is Swat Applied Technology (Swat). 

Not only does it provide immediate relief but with regular use, your horse can feel better and healthier than ever before. Swat contains no harsh ingredients which make it an ideal choice for any horse owner looking for a safe and efficient way to tackle sweet itch. 

So if you’re looking for a reliable answer to tackling the sweet itch in your horse, look no further than Swat Applied Technology!

In General

Sweet itch in horses can greatly reduce the quality of life for these majestic animals and make them uncomfortable and unsuitable to ride. Although it is an incurable condition, many simple steps can be taken to manage sweet itch symptoms. 

Owners of horses suffering from this condition should exercise extreme caution during warmer months and use preventative measures such as insect-repellent sprays and stable sheets. 

For horses already exhibiting signs, corticosteroid treatments may offer much-needed relief that can help improve their well-being. A happy horse will remain productive and enjoyable so it’s important to properly address any sweet itch issues quickly before long-term problems develop. 

With the right precautions, we can make sure our equine companions have a long and healthy life!

Matthew Flor

Matthew Flor

Hi, y’all! My name is Matthew Flor, and I’m from Ocala, Florida.
I’m a horse enthusiast, and one of my favorite breeds is the Shire horse.
In this blog, I’ll be sharing information about these amazing animals – everything from their history to their unique characteristics.

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