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Comparison Review: Rain Rot Solutions

Is rain rot giving you trouble? Figure out how to tackle it with our latest on rain rot solutions.

Rain rot or rain scald is a common skin disease or infection in horses. It’s caused by a bacteria called Dermatophilus congolensis and the signs are pretty unmistakable. Crusty scabs form, which peel off along with clumps of hair, leaving bare spots of skin. It can manifest itself in single lesions in a spotty pattern across your horse’s body or cover larger areas with broad patches of bare skin.

Rain rot shows up on the parts of the horse’s body exposed to rain: the top of the head, the neck and back and along the croup. It rarely appears on the legs or belly (but can in severe cases). It most commonly appears where the temperatures are warm and the humidity is high. Those factors, in combination with heavy rainfall and insects, create an ideal environment for the bacteria to breed.

Although rain rot is not necessarily serious, if allowed to get out of hand it can develop into a more serious infection — especially in horses with compromised immune systems. Therefore, the earlier you get a handle on it, the better. Here at Horse Nation, we’re always looking to lend a hand. So here is a comparison review of common rain rot products to help you make the best decision for treating your horse.

Absorbine Fungasol Ointment

Summary: This is an ointment, which means that it has a thicker consistency and needs to be manually spread on your horse, as opposed to sprayed, squirted, or sprinkled. It can treat many different bacterial and fungal skin issues effectively, which is always a bonus. Its active ingredients are chloroxylenol and triclosan. Some of its inactive ingredients include lanolin oil, melaleuca alternifolia leaf (tea tree) oil, mineral oil, and petrolatum. Translation: these work as moisture barriers to protect your horse’s skin while you’re working on healing the rain rot.
Pros: I tend to be partial to ointments and oil-based products for rain rot and other skin conditions because they provide a moisture barrier, which is imperative for horses that are turned out most of the time like mine are. This ointment does exactly that and has some staying power, so you can apply it and rest assured that it’ll stay put for a day or two until you’re ready to reapply. I found that within a day of application, the rain rot scabs were sloughing off and my horse’s skin looked less irritated. At around $17, it’s one of the more affordable rain rot products.
Cons: The great thing about ointments is that they have staying power. The bad thing about ointments is that they have staying power. The same attributes that make this product effective can be somewhat of a pain in the long run. If your horse’s rain rot isn’t so severe that you can’t ride (and you’re planning to), getting the ointment off of your horse can be difficult. Even when bathing your horse, the water will bead up and roll off the horse’s back (see? it does protect from moisture!). Shampoo will help, but it may take some time to get it all out of your horse’s coat.
Interested in this product? Purchase it here.

Shapley’s Original M-T-G

Summary: M-T-G is an oil based liquid that works to treat a variety of skin conditions. The ingredient list is short and includes mineral oil, sulfur, zinc state, glycerin and rectified cade oil. The consistency is thinner than that of an ointment, but more viscous than a spray. It can be squirted on your hand or directly applied to the horse’s coat. However, because it is a thinner liquid, applying it can be a messy affair. Plan accordingly.
Pros: M-T-G has proven effective for ridding my horses of rain rot. I find that it takes a bit longer than some of the ointments or lotions, but it softens up the scabs, enabling them to come off easily and allowing your horse’s skin to heal. An added bonus of M-T-G is that it is proven to promote hair growth, so it’ll help hide the bald spots more quickly than other products. This product won’t break the bank; it goes for about $18 for a 32 ounce bottle. Due to its spreadability, those 32 ounces last for quite a while — it’s generally not a product you’ll find yourself replacing all the time.
Cons: Although I have had good luck with M-T-G, I have seen it burn/irritate some horses’ skin. Our horses are turned out regularly, so I am not sure if this is an issue only brought on by the combination of sunlight and the M-T-G, but more sensitive-skinned horses can react to it. Like other oil-based products, getting it out of your horse’s coat can take some time and thorough bathing. Also, if your olefactory system is sensitive, this may not be the product for you. M-T-G has a distinctive smell due to the prominence of sulfur in the ingredient list. The sulfur works well to heal horses, but it reminds me of burnt bacon.
Interested in this product? Purchase it here.

Equiderma Skin Lotion for Horses

Summary: Although this is advertised as a lotion, it does not have the consistency of Jergens, which is what pops into my head when I think of a lotion. Instead, the consistency is something in between a lotion and an oil. It’s not as messy as the oils or sprays, but it’s still a liquid and will drip accordingly. Like other skin products, it is effective on myriad conditions. It has a relatively short ingredient list, so you know what you’re putting on your horse: mineral oil, lavender, aqueous solution, surfactant chlorhexadine, n-trichloromethylthio, 4-cyclohexene-1, 2 dicaboximide.
Pros: I have found this to be effective over the course of a couple of days, especially when used in conjunction with a medicated bath prior to application. However, I have also used it in colder temperatures when bathing was not an option and still had positive results. The lotion softens scabs and makes them easy to remove within about 24 hours. After a reapplication or two, I found that most of the rain rot scabs were gone and that hair was beginning to regrow. I have yet to see a horse react negatively to this product, so I have little concern about burnt or irritated skin. The addition of lavender to the ingredient list gives it a pleasant and somewhat calming smell (if that’s something you’re worried about).
Cons: The biggest issue I’ve had with this product is availability. Although it is readily available online, finding it at your local tack store, Tractor Supply Company, or Agway is unlikely. I don’t know about you, but when I have a horse with rain rot, I tend to want to deal with the issue right away, so delayed gratification isn’t really an option. That said, it’s now a staple in my barn and if I am getting low, I reorder. This product does start to creep up the price scale, as it’s around $25 for 16 ounces.
Interested in this product? Purchase it here.

Banixx

Summary: Banixx spray is made up of 2.5 % hydronium solution (H9O4) and 97.5% water. It’s designed to kill bacteria and fungus, so it’s good all-around product for wounds and skin conditions. As a water-based spray, it’s easy and quick to apply.
Pros: Since Banixx is a spray, it goes on very easily — it doesn’t require the commitment (and rubber gloves) that comes with using other products. Since it isn’t oil-based, you don’t have to worry about your horse getting a greasy coat or having the oil transfer to your tack. For minor spots of rain rot, it can be effective fairly quickly and does not seem to irritate the horse’s skin. It falls in the middle of the price range at about $19 for a 16 ounce bottle and $26 for a $32 ounce bottle.
Cons: Since this is a water-based spray, it evaporates quickly. As a result, it may kill bacteria or fungus on contact, but it does not soften rain rot scabs for removal or provide any sort of long-term moisture barrier to protect your horse’s skin while it heals. It is effective on minor spots, but does not seem to work well on larger rain rot flare ups.
Interested in this product? Purchase it here.

Coat Defense Daily Preventative Powder

Summary: As the title implies, this is a powder that is designed to treat and prevent skin issues. It’s a talc-free powder that goes on easily and prevents moisture. Its ingredients include sodium bicarbonate, maranta arundinacea (arrow root) powder, bentonite clay, zea mays (corn starch), menthe piperita (peppermint) oil
Pros: As a preventative treatment, this product is great. It can dry sweat and generally helps to prevent moisture from building up (especially under fly sheets and blankets). For horses that are prone to rain rot, this is a must-have. It also leaves horses’ coats shiny and healthy looking. I have seen some effectiveness in treating pre-existing rain rot as well, but it is not meant to treat larger flare ups. Since it is a powder, it is easy to apply and doesn’t drip or make much of a mess. Whatever gets on the floor can be easily swept up if necessary. Also, it won’t leave your horse’s coat with a greasy film, so your horse can stay show ready.
Cons: This is not a product meant for large flare ups, and those using it to treat those may be disappointed. It won’t soften scabs for removal in the same way that an oil based product will. Also, It’s a bit more expensive than other products, coming in at around $33 for 24 ounces.
Interested in this product? Purchase it here.

No matter what product you choose, remember that with rain rot, sometimes no single solution may work. Instead, a multifaceted approach may be necessary. Rain rot can also be a secondary infection and is more likely to get out of hand if your horse’s immune system is compromised in any way. As always, if you have concerns regarding your horse’s health, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

Go riding!

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