Swollen and Red Horse Sheath

Written by kimberly sharpe Google
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Swollen and Red Horse Sheath
Some horse's object to sheath cleaning. (horse image by Henryk Olszewski from Fotolia.com)

The fold of skin around the horse's penis, known as a sheath, often becomes irritated, red and even swollen. Grit, sand, fur and other debris may be trapped in the sheath or an over accumulation of natural body substances can all produce a reaction in the area. During the summer months, an infestation of nematodes may cause irritation.


The area within the sheath has secretory glands that produce a waxy substance known as smegma. Some horses produce an excessive abundance of the substance, which often causes irritation of the penis and sheath. In extreme cases, the horse may suffer painful urination. The waxy smegma also attracts and traps foreign substances.


Regular monthly cleaning can prevent redness and irritation of the sheath. Rinsing the area with mild soap and water will remove the smegma. Some owners prefer to use a lubricating jelly to successfully clean away the substance.


The horse fly can deposit nematodes onto a horse's skin while biting. The condition, known as habronemiasis or summer sores, causes ulcerated skin to occur on the horse. A common area for the condition to manifest is the penis and sheath. The afflicted area has red, swollen, itchy lesions. Prevent summer sores by controlling flies in the barn and on the horse. Ointments are available for topical treatment and relief of the lesions.

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