Those of you who follow me on Instragram know a bit about my fungus struggle with Mr. P this summer. One morning in mid July I came out to the barn to feed and found P had rubbed his tail horribly. In all my years with horses I’ve seen tail rubs but never to the point of bloody.
Upon arriving home from work that day I went out to clean stalls to find him rubbing his neck in some trees that hang over the fence. He was essentially using his fly sheet as sand paper. I looked under his neck rug and wanted to cry even more.
Initially I gave P a bath with Eqyss Micro-tek shampoo, used their coordinating anti-itch spray, and gave him a dose of Dex just to try to get the itch under control. I know it can cause a founder risk, but he was so miserable I knew he would continue to bloody himself without. P was definitely less itchy the next day so I never gave him more Dex, but he was still pretty miserable. Even worse crusty and oozy spots were cropping up all over his body.
When the vet came out she suspected a fungus and took some scabs from the top of his head (yes he had some around his forelock too) to culture. Looking back I shouldn’t have bothered to do it – by the time anything grew enough to identify we were past most of the issue anyways and it wasn’t cheap to do. The vet gave me packets of Fulvicin, an oral antifungal drug, to give Phoenix and told me to wash him in 4% Chlorhexidine scrub every couple of days. The scrub had to sit on him for at least 10 minutes. No using any topicals or fly sprays was the other order. Let me tell you how hard it is when you horse is uncomfortable to not be able to do all the things!
Side note here – I had some very old scrub on hand that I was using but I wanted to get some that wasn’t expired so I went to the grocery store and picked up a generic version of Hibiclens which is marketed for use on people but was the 4% my vet wanted (2% is more common). It was very clear the next day after washing him in the generic it was not as strong. My vet said since the product isn’t regulated it was probably not as strong as it claimed. So if you are buying the scrub go name brand or get it from your vet.
P and I definitely have spent a lot of time hanging out during baths as the sun went down this summer. I got him a second fly sheet so we could rotate and keep them clean and kept him in fly boots all the time (I generally liked to give breaks). Slowly but surely things started to clear up with the exception of his right front leg which I continued to find covered in crust and blood ever few days.
So I did another set of the Fulvicin packets and continued to pay extra attention to the leg during our medicated baths.
P has continued to have some strange skin but more like what I’ve dealt with in prior years. Actually the stuff on his back I always attributed to riding but since he hasn’t been ridden in over a year we can’t blame that now!
2 months later he still has a couple scabs down low on that right front leg and seems to get itchy if I don’t keep up with our regular baths. Now that he’s starting to grow his winter coat his back is looked a bit better as well.
I do remember that when I got Phoenix back he had been fighting some skin issues and he was hairless in spots on his body and the top of his tail was rubbed out by the time I got him. He had been seen by a specialist who prescribed an old school remedy of feeding him iodine powder. I found that totally scary after looking it up so stopped it once he became mine. All the skin issues back then went away quickly once I had him home with just some betadine scrub baths and regular currying. I do wonder now if it’s somehow related.
I’m still skeptical that this recent issue is only fungus based. Particularly because P had a strange reaction on his neck in the same spot the year before right around the same time. He does stick his head in all kinds of places looking to eat every morsel of food in the pastures and he will ignore bugs attacking him if there is food to be eaten.
So that’s the great fungus summer of 2018. I hope none of you ever have to deal with something this extreme. I’ll take some random leg scurf any day over a whole body attack.