Mud fever, also called pastern dermatitis, causes ulcers and scabs on horses’ legs. It frequently affects pink-skinned horses and appears as red, painful skin regions, which might be lumpy or weeping areas, most typically on the lower limbs, although any leg might be affected. When left untreated, mud fever may have severe consequences if an infection spreads up the leg via the injured skin, creating cellulitis, a painful illness.

Furthermore, Dermatophilus congolensis, a bacteria in the environment, causes mud fever. Wet, injured skin supplies the germs with an excellent damp habitat to flourish. When an infection grows, the skin becomes extremely itchy, further damaging the skin’s outer skin barrier and allowing more bacteria to enter the skin.


Mud fever symptoms are pretty standard and straightforward to identify, with the pattern of lesions indicating locations exposed to repeated soaking and trauma.

  • Appetite loss
  • Depression
  • Swelling
  • Pain when touched
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Crusty scabs
  • Hair loss
  • Greenish discharge
  • Open sores
  • Lesions


The equine veterinarian will review your horse’s health record. He will inquire about what signs you have seen and when they began. The veterinarian will do a physical examination, which might include the following:

  • Using a stethoscope to hear your horse’s lungs and heart.
  • Checking the patient’s temperature and palpating the skin, limbs, and lymph nodes. 
  • The vet might also check the patient’s blood pressure and pulse. He might eliminate one of the scabs to examine the skin behind it.

A veterinarian might be capable of identifying mud fever by inspecting the skin. He might recommend obtaining a skin scrape or a culture to be examined under a microscope to verify the diagnosis.


If your horse has mud fever, the doctor will advise you to keep him in a dry and clean stable. The veterinarian could prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics to treat the swelling and infection. He might also instruct you to soak the scabs in warm soapy water before carefully removing them.

After removing the scabs, the skin should be cleansed with an antibacterial prescription. Corticosteroid topical creams will aid in the healing of the lesions. For example, hide Balm and Fiske’s Hoof have been particularly helpful in managing various skin diseases, like mud fever. In extreme instances of mud fever, the horse should not be ridden or put out until he has recovered completely.

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