Skin conditions are common issues in equine practice. Among those brought to my attention are Ear Plaques and Sarcoid Tumors.
Everyone has seen a horse whose ears have unsightly ear plaques. Inside the ear are white flat plaques. They only appear MORE visible when a horse's ears are clipped to make him or her attractive for a competition. They seem to be caused by a wart virus and can be spread by biting flies.
Unlike the warts
seen on young horses, they don't go away within a few months. For years
people have asked me about treating them. While many treatments have been
tried, there was none proven effective. Often the only result was an ear
shy horse. My advice has been to leave it alone.
Imiquimod works by
stimulating a local inflammatory response and encouraging the body's own
immune system to rid itself of the plaque.
Horses don't seem to
resent the treatment but prior to treatment the crusts and gunk that
develop must be removed. Some horses do resent that and may need to be
A way to help reduce resistance is to soften the crusts with baby oil prior to trying to treating them.
With all the treatment to the ears you might suspect horses would become more head shy. Fortunately, they seem to forgive us. Most of the treated horses actually become less head shy as the plaques in their ears resolve.
There are a variety of treatments for Sarcoids a common skin tumor in horses that can either appear as a flat grey plaque or a solid mass on a horse's skin. Imiquimod has also been shown to be an appropriate treatment for some but not all equine sarcoids.
It is always nice when an effective treatment comes along to a problem that has been frustrating in the past. The use of Imiquimod to treat ear plaques and some sarcoids is a welcome addition to treatments I can offer to you as a horse owner with a horse having one of these conditions.
If you would like to arrange a lecture at your barn, please contact our office.
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