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[RC] Scratches - k s swigart

Truman said:

Scratches are caused by a micro organism that sits
?somewhere between a fungus and bacteria. 

Here is what the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine book "A Complete 
Medical Reference Guide for Horse and Foals" says about scratches (which it 
describes as "grease heel."

"The term "grease heel" is commonly used by veterinarians and horse owners 
alike in reference to a variety of inflammaotry skin conditions affecting the 
pastern region.? Grease heel is not a single, specific disease entity, but a 
collection of conditions with different underlying causes...The possible causes 
of grease heel are legion; they include: contact dermatitis, pastern 
folliculitis, dermatophilosis, ringworm, choriopitic mange, photosensitization, 
photaggravated vasculitis, and immune-complex vasculitis ("purpura").? In many 
cases of grease heel, however, the cause cannot be dermined; under such 
circumstances, symptomatic therapy (treating the clinicl signs without 
addressing the underlying cause) is all that can be provided."

Pastern follilculitis and dermatophilosis are caused by bacteria.

Ringworm is caused by a fungus.

Choriopitic mange is caused by mites (which are arachnids in the animal 
kingdom); although this is more common in draft horses.

Photosensitization can have different causes as well, some of which are 
systemic and some of which are "contact."? And often it is coming in contact 
with clover that causes the photosensitization.

Immune complex vasculitis is a malfunction of the immune system that causes the 
body to start attacking its own cells.

Many of these conditions can also affect the skin on the face.

Personally, I have found that the best way to treat scratches is to prevent 
them.? And that the best way to prevent them is to keep the skin on the 
pasterns healthy (with regular grooming but no shampooing, no ointments and no 
clipping) and to keep swelling out of the lower legs (since swelled tissue is 
more likely to crack the skin when flexed, which the pastern does regularly) as 
much as possible (at endurance rides this includes wrapphing and regular hand 

Orange County, Calif.

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