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Equine sunburn (peeling skin)

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  • Equine sunburn (peeling skin)

    I have a palamino paint mare that I’ve had almost 5 years and we live in New Mexico,USA. She has never had an issue with any feed and has been fed straight alfalfa her whole life. Well this summer we used a new farmer and she had what we thought were a few cases of colic. She actually was unable to process the alfalfa due to high levels of chlorophyll A and B and so her liver was failing and it was becoming toxic to her. Due to this her white areas to include her legs and a patch on her shoulder had a chemical reaction causing her to burn , burn so bad her skin started peeling off in giant chunks and became rippled and hard. She wouldn’t put weight on one leg and god forbid you touch it. We started to use jelly aloe Vera and corona ointment alternating, cold hosing to keep clean as well as cream sunscreen applied twice a day, we also used a 95 % UV protectant fly sheet, and a vet recommended liver support from silverliningherbs. The photos attached are from day 3 and day 10. We are seeing progress the skin is still shedding in areas but the hair is also growing back in others. Please check for these symptoms on pink skin horses when it’s super sunny put. I’m glad we caught it early , it seems we couldn’t tell until it was the worse. If you message me for the photos it will not let me post

  • #2
    Sounds like a sun sensitive reaction to the liver toxicity, I've heard of this with other plants. Glad she is OK now.

    You mention getting a new farrier as part of the story. How is that connected? Just wondering if i missed something reading this.


    • Original Poster

      No we tried a new hay per a new farmer. Will not be buying from them again. That’s exactly what it was! However when I searched online I couldn’t really find anyone or forums that showed pictures talked about what they did to help combat it or how long it took to heal , so I thought I’d share to help someone else that might be in the same predicament.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Charlaster View Post
        No we tried a new hay per a new farmer. Will not be buying from them again. That’s exactly what it was! However when I searched online I couldn’t really find anyone or forums that showed pictures talked about what they did to help combat it or how long it took to heal , so I thought I’d share to help someone else that might be in the same predicament.
        Oh oh, I misread farrier for farmer! New hay supplier! That makes sense! My cell phone has tiny print!


        • #5
          My mare had alsike clover toxicity with the photosensitive reaction on her white areas a few years ago. The worst was probably her face - she is a paint mare with a mostly white head. She had been wearing a short fly mask so only the bottom part of her head burned, but it was pretty bad. Her lips and nose basically looked like they had chemical burns.

          The vet had us use zinc oxide (diaper rash cream) on it. If I recall it took at least a week for the scabs to start coming off, then it healed pretty quickly.

          She had her worst case of scratches ever that year - I now think it's a sign that she's been exposed to the alsike clover and if I see it starting I'll change her turnout right away. The hair above her fetlocks that didn't have scratches all scabbed over. This happened at the beginning of September when she was growing her winter coat. I don't remember her having naked patches on her legs, but I definitely remember having to pick scabs out of long hair for a while afterwards. I don't recall treating her legs with anything except in the areas that had scratches.

          The vet had me put her on a supplement for her liver also. The key ingredient is milk thistle. Note that I was also told by a different vet that I should only use it for 30 days, and not to give her any other drugs while on the milk thistle.

          My go-to now for sunburn is zinc oxide cream. A fellow boarder recently bought a new paint horse and within a week his very pink nose had become very crusty and sore with sunburn. She wanted to try all these expensive sun screens and cleaning things on it - I told her just use zinc oxide. She was amazed at the difference in just 3 days.


          • #6
            When my Paint mare burns her white nostril, I use Desitin zinc oxide diaper cream. She hates hates hates this on her nose, so I have one chance to smear it on before she tosses up her head in disgust. Also she only really burns her nose out at pasture, so i'm doing this in a big field, nowhere to really corner her.


            • #7
              This is called photosensitization. It can be seen with certain plants or with liver dysfunction.
              Von Hendrix aka Jimi


              • #8
                I have a paint that has some wonky, wrinkled skin that will burn on her neck, because of course that scarring is in a white patch so pink skin. Zinc oxide ointment (desitin) as a preventative and Corona ointment if it was already raw seemed to work best for her as well. The important thing was catching it early as you say. The first summer I had her, I didn't catch it early enough (never had a paint before!) and battled with it all summer.
                I've since retrained her mane to the left so it covers that white area.