Mites are tiny insects that burrow into a horse's skin and cause intense itching. There are several species of horse mites and an infection of any is known collectively as mange. Symptoms of a mange infection include itchy, scaly skin and hair loss. Sarcoptic, chorioptic and psoroptic mites are microscopic and usually diagnosed by a skin scraping. Mange mites are contagious and easily spread to other horses and animals via direct contact or contact with grooming tools and tack. Quick and effective treatment of all exposed animals is needed to exterminate mites.
Treat the Horse
You can employ home treatments for a mild mange mite infestation if your herd is small. Mites are burrowing insects, tunnelling into the skin to lay their eggs. To effectively exterminate mites, eggs and larvae, you must continue treatment for at least three weeks. Borax is a well-respected home mange treatment. Other home treatments of mange mites include the use of bacon grease, used motor oil and benzoyl peroxide acne washes. But for reasons of health, safety, economy and practicality, borax treatments are the most commonly used. Borax is available in the detergent section of your grocery store, where it is sold as a laundry booster. In a bucket, mix 1 cup borax, 4 cups warm water and 2/3 cup organic apple cider vinegar. Lather up your horse with a mild shampoo. Add the mixture and leave it on for three to five minutes. Rinse and repeat every three to five days for three weeks. An alternative treatment uses hydrogen peroxide rather than vinegar. Weekly, wash your horse with 1 gallon of 1% hydrogen peroxide mixed with 1 to 2 cups of borax. Leave this mixture on your horse---do not rinse it off.
Clean the Stall
Borax is an effective insecticide inside and outside your home. You can use it to clean and disinfect your horse's living areas. Mix borax with warm water according to package directions. Remove and dispose of all hay and bedding in the stall. Wash surfaces thoroughly. Allow the stall to dry completely before adding fresh bedding. If you prefer, use a stall cleaning disinfectant, available at tack and feed supply stores.
Prevent the Spread
If possible, isolate animals with mange mite infections. Clean and disinfect all grooming tools and equipment to prevent reinfection. Launder washable items in hot water and clean and disinfect non-washables according to manufacturer's directions. Appropriate use of insect repellents can prevent reinfection.