Managing Mange

What is Mange?

Chorioptic Mange, sometime referred to as "Mok", "Scratches" or "Mud Fever" is very common in feathered horses. It is a form of Equine Pastern Dermatitis that is caused by a parasitic skin mite and is characterized by dry scales and crusts around the pasterns. Mange irritates the horse's skin making the animal itchy and uncomfortable. Affected horses often stamp their feet or chew at their heels in response to the irritation. If left untreated, thickening of the skin and/or sores may also develop. Mites may also spread to other areas of the body and to other horses.

Diagnoses & Treatment

Because there are many different causes for Equine Pastern Dermatitis, getting an accurate diagnoses from your vet for the underlying cause of the irritation is essential. Treatment will then depend on the type of Equine Pastern Dermatitis present. Chorioptic Mange is often difficult to treat because many horses develop secondary infections as a result of scratching and irritation that cannot be cured by one single remedy. Simply killing the mites will not kill a secondary bacterial infection for example. Therefore, you and your vet should consider multiple treatments as opposed to a single remedy.

At Friesian Focus, we have been able to keep Chorioptic Mange in check as follows:

  • Provide a clean, dry stall for all horses.
  • Avoid muddy or wet pastures and paddocks.
  • Keep feathers as dry as possible.
  • Thin out excessive feathers to decrease moisture retention. Clip the under layers and leave the top layer long. This will still give the appearance of thick feathers while allowing air to reach the skin.
  • Keep hair on lower limbs clipped.
  • Examine pasterns regularly for signs of scales and crusts.
  • Treat mildly affected areas with Frontline (available online in large doses).
  • Shampoo moderately affected areas with an antiseptic microbicidal shampoo like Betadine Scrub.
  • Some barns also use antifungal selenium sulphide based shampoos like Selsun Blue or Lime sulfur dips.
  • Depending on your vet's diagnosis, antibiotics and/or steroids may also be useful in the management of your horse’s particular form of Dermatitis.

Further Readings:
Akucewich, et al: Equine Pastern Dermatitis in Compendium: Quine Edition, July/Aug 2007, 214 – 227.
Pilsworth, R.C., and Knottenbelt, D.C. Skin Diseases Refresher Chorioptic Mange in Equine Veterinary Education, (2005) 17 (3) 116-117.