Rain Scald

Last Updated on March 15, 2022 by Allison Price

What is rain scald? Rain scald results in the formation matted scabs, which are usually found on the back and rump of the skin.

What causes Rain Scald
Dermatophilus congolensis is the bacteria responsible for rain scald. The bacteria can infiltrate the skin’s surface layer and cause an infection by prolonged wetting, which is common during wet weather.

Horse with a ‘rain scald’ over the back and rump

What does Rain Scald look and feel like?
Mild cases may only have a few flat, hairy scabs. The underside of the scabs is sometimes slightly wet and raw after they are removed. The horse’s back and rump may feel painful, and the layers of scabs will be hard to remove. The horse might be left with large areas of raw skin if the scabs can be gently removed.

Rain Scald

Mud fever is a condition that affects the lower limbs. Similar scabby lesions can be found on the pastern and fetlock, and may cause swelling. Sometimes, rain scald can affect the face.

Does anyone know of anything that looks like Rain Scald in other places?
It’s easy to mistake cases of ringworm or other parasitic conditions for rain scald. Ringworm is more commonly associated with flaking of the skin. When ringworm scabs lift off, the underneath skin tends to become dry and scaly. Some cases of ringworm are characterized by a patchy hair loss. Ringworm can occur anywhere, but it is most common on the neck, face and limbs.

You can distinguish these conditions by performing a hair plick or skin scraping and then looking under a microscope in the laboratory for the cause fungi or bacteria.

Dermatophilus Congolensis bacteria (arrowed), seen under the microscope

How does Rain Scald be treated?
The affected areas should be gently washed using a mild disinfectant shampoo, or solution, e.g. The affected areas should be gently washed with a mild disinfectant shampoo or solution, such as povidone iodine or chlorhexidine. You should dry the skin or allow it to dry completely. Then, apply a broad-spectrum antiseptic powder, spray, or ointment. The horse will be able to heal itself by removing the scabs gradually over several days. Applying an oily or greasy preparation, such as Vaseline, zinc and castor oil or Vaseline, to waterproof the horse’s skin if the horse must go outside.

Can Rain Scald Be Prevented?
Because bacteria thrives in warm, humid conditions, it is important to keep your horse stable, protected, and rugged during rainy weather. This will help protect the horse’s skin from being wetened and prevent infections.

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!