Sweet Itch

What causes sweet itch and how do I treat it?

What causes sweet itch and how do I treat it?

Sweet itch is caused by a sensitivity or allergy to the saliva of the Culicoides midge, which results in severe itchiness and skin irritation. Affected horses and ponies usually have characteristic lesions in their mane, along their back, and at their tail base, although most of the midge bites actually occur in the groin area and on the underside of the tummy.

Sweet itch treatment

Keeping out of the way of bites is the best way to avoid this condition, as none of the potential treatments is completely effective. This can be done by:

  • Stabling at dawn and dusk.
  • Using effective fly repellents (it is important to remember to apply these to the tummy and groin areas as well as elsewhere, since this is where most of the bites occur).
  • The use of a fly rug that protects the horse’s underside and neck is also advisable, because this helps to prevent the mites penetrating right down to the skin. It also helps to protect the horse from damaging itself by scratching.