Causes And Treatment Of "Scratches" In Horses

What is the current thinking on the causes and treatment of "scratches"?

This is a hot topic amongst horse lovers, and there are sure to be a hundred different answers for every day of the week. "Scratches" consist of a mixed bacterial and yeast infection, which is complicated by an inflammation of allergic response. They occur most commonly on the back of the hind pasterns, so is referred to as "pastern dermatitis". Since this area normally has longer hair, it often collect and holds dirty water from riding and is therefore prone to "scratches" more than other areas.? Occasionally a small laceration or roughened skin on the pastern will incite a bout of scratches. Effective treatment consists of drying the skin and applying a topical antibiotic, an antifungal, and an anti-inflammatory such as a steroid. In some of the more severe cases oral antibiotics and steroids are indicated.