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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 19, 2010
    Cherryville, BC

    Default Equine pastern vasculitis

    I have a horse that has been diagnosed with 'equine pastern vasculitis' that is photosensitive. Does anyone have any experience or suggestions on how to help keep it cleared up?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2006
    S. Oregon


    removing the horse from the environment is the best way. but, short of that, i've had luck with daily scrubbing the area to remove the scabs, rinse with a 25% applecider vinegar solution and then after that dries, coat the area heavily with Desonex (the zinc oxide one). I'd probably also do something extra to boost the immune system (feeding a couple tablespoons of organic, ground Tumeric a day and a cup of flax seed).

    My theory is that this happens when the ph gets out of balance which then allows bacterial and fungal infections to take off. So, actually feeding the horse a cup of apple cider vinegar a day to get the ph balanced again might also help. But, it may be enough to just rinse off the area each day with it.

    If it truly is photosensitive, then the Tumeric may help the liver (photosensitivity will normally come along with raised liver enzymes). Photosensitivity suggests it could be caused by alsike clover or St. JOhn's Wort?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May. 10, 2006


    DO NOT SCRUB. Scrubbing will make this condition much, much worse.

    Pastern leukocytoclastic vasculitis (PLV) is immune-mediated. It is not caused by bacteria or fungus, though secondary bacterial infections can take root. It is thought to be caused by an inappropriate immune response to antigens, and affects the small blood vessels in unpigmented skin. PLV has a photosensitive component, but it is not the same as photosensitivity caused by ingesting toxic plants, for example.

    Has your vet prescribed any kind of corticosteroid? Most horses require systemic steroids to get PLV under control. My horse needed very high doses of dexamethasone just to control the symptoms, but most horses respond to lower, every-other-day or even every-third-day dosages. Severe cases might also benefit from the addition of pentoxifylline; it helped my horse who had an extreme case of PLV, and is part of a protocol designed by Dr. White at UC-Davis.

    The affected skin must also be kept out of the sun. Wraps are good, tube socks with the toe cut off can help if the horse must be turned out during the day. Anecdotally, some horses seem to have more photosensitvity issues if they are consuming alfalfa.

    If you/your vet determine that scabs need to be removed, use a sweat wrap so they'll slide off rather than scrubbing them off. Most horses with PLV have extremely sensitive skin and may have bad reactions to things like Nolvasan ointment. I had the best luck with silver sulfadiazine, with a bit of dexamethasone mixed in as per the instructions of my vet.

    Let me know if you have other questions. Please don't treat this like "ordinary" scratches or try homemade recipes. Most PLV can be brought under control relatively quickly, but in some rare cases it can become a very severe, even life-threatening, problem, particularly if it causes cellulitis or extreme sloughing of the skin.

    ETA: Here's a link to a longer post I wrote some years ago. First post on the page:
    R D Lite "Reuben" (Put Em Up x Scheme for a Dream-Drouilly) 1997-2006

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2002
    the far side


    I'm not sure where you got the idea that one cup of a mildly acidic solution given by mouth (into a much more acidic stomach) is going to get the "ph balanced". Body pH is carefully regulated by several buffer systems, in particular the carbon dioxide - carbonic acid - bicarbonate system. We are prepared with a number of homeostatic mechanisms to keep the blood pH around 7.4 (give or take .05), since even modest variations from this can be fatal. Fortunately, 1 cup of a very weak acid in the digestive system of a 500 kg horse (roughly 350 LITERS of total body water) is unlikely to have any real effect on this homeostasis.

    Do you have any support for the idea that turmeric and flax seed "boost the immune system", which in any case is a very vague statement about a very complex system? In any case, since vasculitides are often treated with immunosuppressive doses of corticosteroids, maybe "boosting the immune system" would be counterproductive.

    As for the OP, when you need to wash to remove grime and loose scabs, make sure that you rinse and dry the skin thoroughly - when I'm dealing with scratches cases, I keep a big, fluffy towel in my car for horse legs. I would also use just gentle, unscented handsoap or maybe chlorhexidine scrub for washing, something that is not going to irritate healing wounds.

    If it's warm enough, night turnout is probably not a bad idea to avoid the worst of the sun. Another option for sun protection, and what I would do if it's really bad and hasn't been clearing up, is apply some antibiotic/steroid, wrap the legs, and leave them wrapped, changing every couple days as needed. For turnout, you might consider a cotton bandage (starting at the coronary band) secured with Vetrap, then an Elastikon hoof wrap that extends up over the bandage, with a piece of Elastikon at the top to attach the bandage to the fur and duct tape to reinforce the toe. This Rambo bandage should be able to stay on for several days and will prevent dirt from getting in at the top or the bottom; a firm, taut Elastikon layer also helps the bandage keep its shape and stay up. Should be OK for quiet, dry turnout, too (Elastikon is water-repellent but not waterproof - dewy AM grass = OK, standing water = not so good).

    Finally, you may want to talk to your vet about whether you need a course of oral steroids, possibly with an oral antibiotic if there are secondary infections. For many horses, a short course of prednisolone will resolve a flare-up.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb. 17, 2013


    Hi. Please could you tell me the procedure for sweat wrapping legs ? My horse has PLV, see for pictures and I would like to get some of the crud off without soaking his legs, as the general consensus is not to wet his legs to remove the gunk. What would you recommend ?
    I live in the UK so medication (Genesis spray in particular) and treatment procedures differ greatly from the USA. My vet is reluctant to prescribe pentoxifylline at this stage.
    Last edited by spenhouse; Mar. 1, 2013 at 05:33 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 18, 2005


    An overnight sweat with glycerine will melt off lots of the superficial crud and scabs painlessly so that no picking is needed. Apply glycerine liberally (working it gently throughout the hair and down to the skin), wrap the leg with plastic wrap, then apply a standing/stable wrap. Rinse everything with warm water the next day to see where you're at.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 17, 2010


    talk to your vet about the sweat wrap. We did a mix of furozone, dex, dmso, and ivermectin, but horse had not been dx w/ PLV.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 17, 2013


    Thank you

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 17, 2013


    Further to my recent posts I have updated Alibis current and continuing condition at
    The legs are obviously improving but my questions are as follows. How long do I keep treating with Prednisolone (250mg per day) and Norodine antibiotics (37.5g twice daily) ? Do I reduce both and when, or do I stop all meds abruptly ?
    I have only washed his legs twice in three weeks and only with warm water. He still wears turnout boots and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I have removed all Alfalfa from his feed. He is not turned out at all in snowy conditions. I do not shave his legs to enable me to manage the scabs. Is there anything else I need to consider to ensure this does not reoccur and is a full recovery now feasible ? Any and all comments and support very gratefully received !!
    Ps I would have given up on this horse without the info on this forum. You have all helped me to believe my horse and I could beat this. I thank you all so much. X

  10. #10


    Wow, registering on here when you are English and answering the random question is HARD! USA terms are very different to ours! Anyway, here I am and I really wanted to join as my horse has had very severe LV. I battled with the stuff the vets gave us and kept her stabled for months and progress was very slow and hit and miss. I then found some truly amazing boots manufactured by Equimed AG here in the UK. I do not work for these guys or have any contact with them as a company but I wanted to share just how well they have worked. They are cloth boots/wraps with a silver and carbon lining for use in the stable. They are expensive and I only happened to try them as a friend sold her horse and had some for her Mud Fever (I think you call it Scratches from what I can work out) so she sold them to me. They are amazing. Within a few days there was significant difference; swelling down, skin less raw and pink and lesions drying out. 4 weeks on her legs are virtually totally recovered just a few tiny flea sized scabs left which are flaking away anyway.

    My vet was amazed as had told me her legs would be scarred for life. So much so she wrote to my insurance company so we could claim for a front pair (3 legs affected as one leg is black) as the hinds were so vastly improved. The lesions just dried up gradually and flaked off almost like dandruff. The wraps are soft and help by keeping the light off and the legs stay clean and dry while the silver does its magic. Our mare will be turned out with UV sun boots on as of next week as I now feel she is recovered enough that her skin is stable. Honestly, please try these as I was virtually in tears at how sore she was and now she is almost back to normal and they are so easy to use as I was getting bogged down with daily applications of creams etc coupled with trying to wash her legs off where bedding stuck etc which irritated her skin every time I washed them.

    I am sure they would ship to USA. I don't know if you guys know about them as they are a very new technology and my vet hadn't even heard of them but I am truly amazed and if anyone can use this to help their horse recover then I want to help!

    I have also been feeding zinc powder and sunflower oil to aid skin recovery as recommended by the leading vet here in the UK who has researched this horrid condition extensively. If anyone wants any info from my experiences then please get in touch as happy to share info I have gleaned in my desperation!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2000
    Oregon, sitting on my couch looking out the window at a mountain


    Send Perfect Pony a PM . . . or maybe she'll stop by here. In any event, she had a horse with vasculitis and took it to Davis and they actually wrote the case up in one of their publications, IIRC.
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

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