Why Is My Horse Losing Hair on the Face?

Updated July 19, 2017

A horse that is ridden rigorously will invariably perspire afterwards. It is crucial when bathing the animal to wash its face as well so that sweat is not able to sit indefinitely on the animal's skin. If this is not regularly done, any number of topical fungal infections can result, causing the animal to suffer a certain degree of hair loss on its face.

Dermatophyte Infections

Dermatophyte infections in horses are the result of various types of fungi. The most common form of dermatophyte infection in the equine community is ringworm. Oddly enough, ringworm is not caused by worms at all, but is rather a particular fungus that is present on the horse's skin. It can appear moisture is allowed to sit.

Symptoms of Ringworm

The most common symptom of equine ringworm is the presence of rounded lesions that are devoid of hair. The fungus responsible for ringworm (common dermatophyte), comes in contact with the horse's skin, continuing to grow and later infecting the hair shaft. The hair then breaks away from the skin's surface, resulting in patches of hair loss.

As stated by, equine facial ringworm will sometimes not appear in circular lesions. It can sometimes be mistaken for an autoimmune disease, such as a thyroid condition, so proper culturing of the horse's skin for the causative fungus should be carried out.

Treatment of Equine Ringworm

Considering that ringworm is extremely contagious, the animal should be isolated from others. Afterward, cleaning the horse's infected facial areas with a solution made from one part bleach and 10 parts water is often quite effective. This will succeed in drying the area out, thereby killing the fungus present. In terms of store-bought shampoos that may be used, be sure to purchase one that has the antifungal medication miconazole as one of its ingredients.

Straw Itch Mites

Straw itch mites, also known as forage mites, are present in the straw in a horse's stall or in their grain holders. This is the way these mites can attach to the horse's face and infest their skin. Because these mites cause pruritis (intense itching), the horse ends up rubbing its face anywhere it can relieve the itching (usually a stall or barn door or hay rack). The end result of a straw mite infection on the horse's face is hair loss.

Treatment of Straw Itch Mites

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, straw itch mites can be treated with glucocorticoids (hydrocortizone or dexomethazone). As stated by, these two glucocorticoids can be administered topically in cream form or via injection. After the glucocorticoids are administered and the affected grain or straw is removed, the symptoms should soon abate.

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About the Author

Originally from California, Elizabeth Genge now lives in Atlanta, GA. She began writing professionally in 2008 and currently writes for Demand Studios as well as Textbroker. She holds a degree in theatre from the University of California, Santa Barbara.