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Treatment of Skin Disorders in Horses

By Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD, Professor of Dermatology, Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison ; John E. Lloyd, BS, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Entomology, University of Wyoming ; Bertrand J. Losson, DVM, PhD, DEVPC, Professor, Department of Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liege ; Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD ; Patricia A. Talcott, MS, DVM, PhD, DABVT, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Toxicology, Holm Research Center, University of Idaho ; Alice E. Villalobos, DVM, DPNAP, Director;Director, Animal Oncology Consultation Service;Pawspice ; Patricia D. White, DVM, MS, DACVD ; Thomas R. Klei, PhD, Boyd Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Advanced Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine and Louisiana Agriculture Experiment Station, Louisiana State University ; David Stiller, MS, PhD, Research Entomologist, Animal Disease Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, University of Idaho ; Stephen D. White, DVM, DACVD, Professor and Chief of Service, Dermatology, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital; Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis ; Carol S. Foil, DVM, MS, DACVD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine


Successful treatment of skin disorders requires identification of the underlying cause. Not surprisingly, many treatments for skin diseases are applied directly to the skin surface. Even though topical treatments may not cure the condition, they are often beneficial in improving the cosmetic appearance or odor of the animal, pending the final diagnosis. Topical skin medications may be the preferred method of treatment for some diseases or beneficial in addition to systemic drugs (medications usually given by mouth or injection and distributed throughout the body). Examples of products applied directly to the skin include antibiotic ointments, corticosteroid preparations, medicated shampoos, and topical insecticides.

Systemic drugs may be needed to treat some disorders. These include whole-body antibiotics and corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs.

As with any treatment program, make sure that you read and understand all directions for using the prescribed product, including how to apply or give it, how much to use, and how often it should be administered.

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