After a horse suffers a wound, formation of granulated tissue occurs to cover the area. New skin then grows to seal the wound. When healing is slow, such as on lower leg wounds, the granulation becomes out of control, forming a big lump. This is known as proud flesh and if left unchecked will grow above the skin level, thereby interfering in the growth of new skin and eventual healing. The horse is left with an open wound that is at risk of infection. Controlling or preventing the growth of proud flesh should take priority in wound treatment.
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Deal with the wound as soon as it occurs to prevent initial development of proud flesh. Ensure it is cleaned immediately with warm saline water as irritants and infection can aid the growth of proud flesh. Clip back the hair and wash the wound carefully, ensuring you clean the wound from the inside to the outside to prevent grit entering.
Call the vet and ask for the wound to be stitched. It is difficult for proud flesh to grow if the edges of the wound are pulled together.
For wounds where it is not practical to stitch, apply a pressure bandage to pull the edges of the wound as close together as possible. If it is on or near a joint try to immobilise the leg to stop it from stretching the skin and breaking the bond between the edges.
Use veterinary-recommended topical treatment containing cortisone on the wound to prevent the growth of proud flesh. Do not use caustic products. Though they do break down proud flesh, they also kill healthy growth cells and prevent new skin from forming over the wound. The result is a slow-healing injury.
Tips and warnings
- Always follow the advice of your vet.
- If proud flesh is left to develop, surgical removal is usually the only option available.
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