Greasy Heel

Last Updated on March 15, 2022 by Allison Price

What is it and how can you avoid it?Greasy Heel, also known as pastern dermatitis, is an inflammatory condition that affects the skin’s lower limbs. It is a non-pigmented form of dermatitis. There are many skin conditions that can cause lesions, including scaling, crusting and erosion, as well as exudation. Greasy Heel is most often caused by bacteria, fungi and mites in horses that have feathering at the fetlocks.

What is the process?
There are many environmental factors that can make a horse susceptible to Greasy Heel. Horses with white limbs or feathering at their fetlocks seem to be more vulnerable. Greasy Heel can develop in the following conditions:
Constant or repeated exposure to moisture, e.g. Wet bedding, muddy pads from wet weather and horses with access to dams, low heel conformation, insect bites on lower limbs, and abrasions due to loose surfaces (e.g. gravel. These conditions decrease the skin’s ability to act as a barrier against organisms and allow them to infiltrate the skin and cause dermatitis.

How does it look?
Greasy Heel is a mild form of skin inflammation that causes reddening and swelling at the back of your pastern. Lesions may occur more often in the hind limbs, but they can also affect all four. As the disease progresses, many scabs or crusts can form. This may lead to matting of hair. If the infection is not treated, it can spread to the limbs and cause secondary infection. This will result in the discharging of pus from the affected area and further swelling. Lesions that occur in horses with feathering around the fetlock tend to be more severe, and can spread to a greater area than lesions that are found in horses with shorter hair.

Greasy Heel

Is Greasy Heel painful for you?
Greasy Heel can cause discomfort for horses in its initial stages. However, it is not painful. If the lesions don’t get treated, they can become itchy or painful, leading to further trauma, lameness, and even more pain.

How can Greasyheel be stopped?
Greasy Heel can be prevented by taking preventative measures. The following factors can lead to the development of lesion: sun exposure, skin irritation, skin irritation, skin irritation, persistently wet or muddy conditions, and softening of the lower limbs. The horse should be kept in a dry, clean environment to prevent the condition from developing. Also, the lower limbs need to be checked for signs of dermatitis like reddening or swelling of the skin. Therapy can be initiated early on in the disease process.

How can an owner treat Greasy Heel
Greasy Heel treatment is based on identifying and eliminating the predisposing factors that caused the disease.
After removing the predisposing factors, there are steps to reduce and/or treat Greasy Heel.

  1. You can also trim the hair by gently cleaning the areas.
  2. For 10 minutes, soak the affected limbs in water.
  3. Use a soft cloth to remove all scabs. This may take several washings. Please do not cause bleeding. You may need to soften scabs before using softening agents like Vaseline, manuka honey, or warm water. After the scabs have been softened, rub them gently with a betadine, chlorhexidine, or medicated shampoo.
  4. After removing the solution, rinse it off with water and dry with a towel.
  5. Apply antiseptic cream to the affected area once it is dried. Then, lightly bandage the area to protect from sunlight and contamination.
  6. You can repeat steps 1 through 6 every one to two business days.
  7. Keep your house horse dry and out of moist environments as much as you can to preserve the lower limbs.

Is this a condition that requires veterinary attention?
If Greasy Heel is discovered in its early stages, you should follow the steps above and note any changes. You should consult a veterinarian if the condition persists or the horse is showing signs like lameness, cracking, bleeding, swelling, or swelling of the limbs. To determine the best treatment, the veterinarian will have to examine your horse.

How long does it take for the wound to heal?
Greasy heel can be a chronic disease that may not respond to treatment. Do not give up. Treatment may be required for several weeks or even months. The disease is self-limiting for most horses if the environment is kept clean and dry.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!