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SWEET ITCH is said to be caused by an allergic hypersensitive reaction of the horse’s body to the saliva of the cullicoides midge.This causes the horse to itch severely and rub itself, often to the point of causing sores.
Thickening of the skin, even skin infections can result in bad cases. The mane and tail are most commonly affected, but other areas can be rubbed. Certain breeds seem to be more prone including Icelandic horses, so there may well be a genetic link. The condition usually arises in late March/early April until October : midges are most active on humid, calm days and usually appear early morning to dusk.
With sweet itch, it is very much a case of finding a regime and/or supplements that work for your horse, combining herbs, topicals, rugs and other alternative remedies. During the winter months we suggest trying to support the repair of the coat and skin as much as possible. Research is ongoing into this condition which include vaccine trials. A good website can be found at www.sweet-itch.co.uk and some research was undertaken by Guelph University in Canada using flaxseed/linseed oil.
Specially formulated for this condition is our extensively trialled Hilton Herbs Bye Bye Itch Supplement added to the feed and our Bye Bye Itch Lotion for external use. The dried mix is rich in essential fatty acids (Linseed) and vitamins (Brewers Yeast, Nettle) which helps to improve the skin integrity, encouraging a natural resistance to allergens. Other herbs have anti-histamine properties (Nettle & Buckwheat) to help reduce itching and to cleanse toxins for the system plus Vegetable Charcoal and Diatomaceous Earth.
The pleasant smelling Lotion (Coconut oil, Aloe Vera, MSM, Rosemary essential oil, Lemon Grass essential oil) is easy to apply and can be used all over the body, even on rubbed areas. It can be used once or twice daily as required and also helps to reduce itching and encourage hair regrowth. If found beneficial, you may be able to reduce its application, but this depends on the individual.
The dried Bye Bye Itch will take up to 4 weeks for full absorption, but we do suggest it is given longer to see noticeable benefits.
Although sweet itch and other seasonal itching is generally confined to the Spring, Summer and early Autumn months, it is important to try and support the skin and aid hair re-growth throughout the Winter months. We suggest feeding this supplement all year round : some of the herbs do support the skin cells own response to allergens which can take time to become effective. If used through the “itching” months with success, a maintenance dose might only be required during the Winter months, but if new to this supplement, feed at the recommend rate for your horse or pony through the first Winter.