There are a ton of “skin funk” issues out there, and rain rot is just one of them! Most of us are familiar with rain rot (or rain scald), and we easily recognize it by the small scabby bumps on our horse’s backs. It’s most common on the dorsal (top) side of your horse, and of course it usually likes to hang out under the saddle.
You can just start to see the beginnings of rain rot here - note the thinner hair coat and flaky skin.
Rain rot is caused by a bacteria, and can actually be spread from horse to horse by way of bugs and flies, or sharing grooming tools like brushes and blankets. It is still unknown by researchers if the rain rot bacteria is present in the soil. What we do know is that certain conditions come together to create an “outbreak” on the skin.
If you suspect rain rot, you will see the small scabby bumps combined with tufts of hair that seem to be somehow sprouting from the scabs. The hair often comes out, leaving a naked spot. More advanced cases will have open sores with visible pus. Luckily, it’s not itchy, which would only create more damage from rubbing. This can also help your Veterinarian diagnose a skin issue, so if you suspect rain rot, look for signs of rubbing or itchiness.
Moist climates seem to be a factor in the development of rain rot as well, and rain rot happens year round. Some horses (the very lucky ones!) are not painful, and MAY even clear up on their own. However, it’s always best to call your Veterinarian and have him take a peek. If things go downhill and you see more scabby patches or the presence of pus, chances are your horse needs some serious medical intervention, including antibiotics.
The rain rot patch has grown, you can see hair loss and some more skin irritation. This can progress to large bald patches and open sores.
Season is not a factor, but in the winter a longer hair coat can help to trap moisture and set the stage for rain rot. Summer is prime time also, as humid climates and insects play a role.
Talk to your Veterinarian about how to nip rain rot in the bud. Avoid sharing grooming tools, and inspect daily for signs of healing (or worsening). Use Original M-T-G or Original M-T-G Plus to help heal the skin and encourage healthy skin to grow. Don’t share blankets, and button up your insect control measures, as the infection can spread from horse to horse via flies and bugs. If you are at a boarding facility, be sure to give the heads up to fellow horse owners about your horse's rain rot so that they can step up their efforts, too.