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Mud Fever & Rain Scald

Presenting Signs

  • Localised/ generalised hair loss or crusting of the skin
  • May be itchy
  • Lesions can be mildly painful
  • Often follow period of wet weather, where horse may be standing in water or mud for prolonged periods
  • Distribution/ location of lesions are often in areas subject to wet conditions: either rain, mud or sweat. (Can also be on head/ neck/ abdomen/ lower legs/ under tack)
  • Rainscald: dorsal back
  • Mud fever: distal limbs, particularly pastern area. White skin tends to be more commonly affected


  • Caused by the bacterium Dermatophilus congolensis that lives in the environment. Requires abrasion to the skin and a moist environment to cause infection.
  • Predisposing factors: muddy fields, sweating, pink skin, trauma to skin


  • A combination of client history, clinical signs, and sometimes diagnostic investigation if needed
  • Clinical signs: matted hair, scabs, underlying yellow discharge, crusts may be dry in chronic or healing lesions
  • In severe cases skin may crack, ooze and swell
  • Confirmation of diagnosis: clinical signs, identification of organism with histopathology or cytology


Clean and dry affected areas

  • Heavily diluted hibiscrub or iodine solution
  • Soak scabs gently to allow easy removal
  • Avoid bandaging as creates a moist environment
  • Dry well and keep clean


  • Allows dry environment, protects from rain and mud
  • Protects from flies/ other biting insects which may cause skin abrasions
  • Keep bedding dry and clean

Topical treatments for localised areas

  • Crusts must be softened and gently lifted away to allow topical treatment to be applied directly onto the skin
  • Daily for 5-7 days then weekly until resolved
  • Seek appropriate medicated cream from your vets

Topical treatments for larger areas 

  • Antibacterial shampoos and medicated creams from your vet work well
  • Drying skin well is very important
  • Avoid over treatment that could lead to further skin damage


  • Prevent excessive contact with rain/ mud and wet grass
  • Ensure bedding is clean and dry
  • Use individual rugs/ tack/ grooming kit to prevent cross contamination between horses
  • Regularly check legs thoroughly, especially in feathered horses where skin lesions may be hidden
  • Wash off/ groom well after exercise, to ensure no sweat is left in contact with the skin
  • Put food and water on hard standing to minimise time spent standing in mud
  • Keep feathers clipped

For more advice or if concerned, contact the team on 01323 815120.