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Sweet Itch

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  • Sweet Itch

    Looking for help with a sweet itch issue. No-see-ums or biting midges..Advice on a topical, sprays dont seem to work.

  • #2
    There's a couple Facebook groups where people share information. They're mostly people in the EU but, still helpful in the USA.

    Head-to-tail fly sheeting (w/ mask, neck cover, and sheet) is about the only thing that truly keeps it at bay, in my limited experience. There are fly sheets available with extra belly coverage too, some someone made specifically or sweet itch. I also would spray on the 14-day water resistant fly spray along with the fly sheet. If you can keep the horse in a stall with a fan during dusk and dawn, those are supposed to be the worst times for them. I'm not waking up at 4am to bring a horse in, and don't want my horses in all night, so I never did that.

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    • #3
      I've had a few things work, though not on every horse.

      First of all, one of the fly sheets impregnated with fly repellant (like the Amigo BugBuster) have long been my go-to. Until the last couple of years when my daughter's pony started rubbing his mane and tail out, and scratching himself raw along his midline. His bugbuster didn't seem to make a difference one way or another. Though I had another terrible sweet itch sufferer who never needed anything other than his bugbuster to keep him happy and itch free.

      With my daughter's pony, the "magic bullet" has been Equiderma lotion and fly spray. That stuff is amazing! As long as we keep it on him, no rubbing, no scratching, and no miserable horse.

      I've also been feeding him a garlic supplement and SmartBugOff Ultra. Don't know if they're making a difference since we've been diligent about the the Equiderma, but figured it was worth a try!
      __________________________________
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      • #4
        I’ve tried it all. Recently read a scientific study showing lemon eucalyptus oil is as effective as DEET against culicoides midges. Bought some Repel brand lemon eucalyptus spray. Put on horse. MAGIC. It works. $5.

        Between that and a belly covering fly sheet on insane fly days, we’ve never had better protection.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post
          I’ve tried it all. Recently read a scientific study showing lemon eucalyptus oil is as effective as DEET against culicoides midges. Bought some Repel brand lemon eucalyptus spray. Put on horse. MAGIC. It works. $5.

          Between that and a belly covering fly sheet on insane fly days, we’ve never had better protection.
          Tried the Repel this year. Works!

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          • #6
            What worked for my sweet itch horse was a topical barrier product, one that does not melt off etc. -- bugs get stuck in it + can't bite through it. Applied to mid-line and anywhere else horse gets bitten.

            There is a product that years ago was only sold in the UK from one company: Camrosa Ointment: An effective water repellent barrier against flies, midges it's long lasting in all weathers. It does not melt in heat or wash off in rain.

            This stuff worked great but became too expensive for 24/7 use = one small jar would get used up in a matter of days. So I found another product -- Super Lube which is a non toxic, inert grease used in various industries like food production (machinery) -- again, no melt and stays on in all weather -- doesn't come off until you wash it off like the Camrosa.

            Plus it NEVER bothered my horse's skin -- no reaction at all other than keeping bugs off him. Way cheaper than Camrosa + easily ordered in big tubs rather than little jars.

            Horse was a greasy mess but I didn't care (neither did he) and it replaced my Boet blankets and mesh belly bands etc. A real life saver. I still use it to this day on my other horses who don't have sweet itch but get attacked (midline etc.) by green heads and other biters.



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            • #7
              Have you tried supplementing with flaxseed? It does help with tamping down a horse's reactions to biting midges.
              "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

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              • #8
                Diet change to no grain and soy-free in some cases.

                Ditch the sweet feed in all cases. That crap permeates thru the skin and is a big draw to insects that like horse flesh.

                add another 3,000IU of pure Vitamin E.

                Worked on two horses prone to sweet itch.

                Scratches and rain rot also went down to near zero

                Brush or vacuum them every day during the height of the season.

                mime come in at night, out in the day. No sheets of any sort but they do wear fly masks.

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                • #9
                  Stall in front of fans works well. My old mare will squeeze in the garage to escape the bugs, if not the garage, she will be on the back porch or she squeezes between the cars in the driveway.

                  I put my fans on a timer and run the electric fencing to the barn. This gives my old mare 24/7 access to the barn. The fans turn on automatically. If i need to rotate paddocks i just change the electric fence over to the next paddock. All my paddocks end near the barn so it's easy to switch access.

                  I used to use petroleum jelly on her belly. Skin so soft works temporarily and i even make some for myself as repellent.

                  I must try the Repel stuff. Citronella shampoo also works temporarily to repel bugs but who wants to wash their horse daily?

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                  • #10
                    Those interested in lemon eucalyptus repellent for culicoides midges, please note that the different ingredient (which has a citrusy smell too) called citronella actually ATTRACTS the midges in studies so don’t use that!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by walkinthewalk View Post
                      Diet change to no grain and soy-free in some cases.

                      Ditch the sweet feed in all cases. That crap permeates thru the skin and is a big draw to insects that like horse flesh.

                      add another 3,000IU of pure Vitamin E.

                      Worked on two horses prone to sweet itch.

                      Scratches and rain rot also went down to near zero

                      Brush or vacuum them every day during the height of the season.

                      mime come in at night, out in the day. No sheets of any sort but they do wear fly masks.


                      I think the one thing you’re doing here that could prevent sweet itch (allergies to the bite of culicoides midges) is bringing the horses in at night, since this insect feeds dawn and dusk.

                      None of the other stuff is a bad idea for general horse health but it’s unlikely to change an allergic response to culicoides bites.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post



                        I think the one thing you’re doing here that could prevent sweet itch (allergies to the bite of culicoides midges) is bringing the horses in at night, since this insect feeds dawn and dusk.

                        None of the other stuff is a bad idea for general horse health but it’s unlikely to change an allergic response to culicoides bites.
                        Yes, bringing them in at night helps a lot

                        molasses does indeed permeate thru the skin, thus adding to the insect attraction for an already sensitive horse. A good friend's husband has such a sensitive nose, he could smell the horses that were fed sweet feed when they were on trail rides. He would ask the rider of the horse what they fed, his nose was always spot on

                        Vitamin E can help the super sensitive horse as it boots the immune system. I've seen it with two of my horses. My Arab also had Neck Threadworms (there's a HUGE thread on this forum about them). I double dosed him with Ivermectin four weeks apart and started him on 3,000 IU Vitamin E, when he was around 25. For the first time in his life, he was Sweet Itch and NTW free. I kept him on the Vit E until his sweet self passed at 29

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                        • #13
                          Since I am no longer selling "Goober's Soon To Be Famous" fly spray, I have 2 words for what works: Neem Oil. Tractor supply has it. All nurseries have it. It it stocked by nurseries because it is used to spray on plants (specifically roses and hydrangeas (and lots of other things) to fkeep the little Noseems off the plants.I put a bottle of neem oil and a bottle of regular flyspray and fill the rest with water. He has not has an issue with sweet itch since that day.
                          "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism" https://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/c...lies/smile.gif

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                          • #14
                            "Sweet itch" seems like a generic term for any itchy horse. Do you know for sure what is causing it? I have a super itchy mare and finally got her relief with Hydroxyzine (an antihistimine), Smart Omegas from SmartPak, and oatmeal/aloe shampoo. She used to get so itchy in the summer she would rub herself raw and bloody from her ears to her withers. I tried everything - shampoos, injectible synthetic steroids (can't remember the name). She got some relief with immunotherapy shots (she tested positive for just about everything) but she still got itchy, she just didn't hurt herself. FInally, a vet noticed that her skin/coat were just really dry and he recommended the supplements and shampoo. Along with the hydroxyzine, she has been pretty comfy for the past two summers.
                            My blog: Journeys in Riding

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LShipley View Post
                              "Sweet itch" seems like a generic term for any itchy horse.
                              Real Sweet Itch -- not just itchy horse from random bug bites -- is caused by a horse's allergic reaction to the saliva (from bite) of culicoides mosquitos = midges, no-see-ums. Obviously some horses have this allergy to the saliva and others don't. In the UK the sweet itch allergy is considered a vice of sorts and should be disclosed when a horse is for sale so potential new owners can decide if they want to buy.

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