Categories: Campaigns, HAPPA Facts556 words2.2 min read

Sweet Itch Facts: All You Need To Know


March 29, 2022



Does Your Equine Suffer With Sweet Itch?

Here at HAPPA we have several horses and ponies that suffer from Sweet Itch and our Equine Care Officers are here to provide the best care and treatment possible. Here are some handy tips and information to keep your equine happy this summer.

What Is Sweet Itch?

Sweet Itch is also known as Insect Bite Hypersensitivity is an allergic reaction to the saliva from insect bites. In the United Kingdom these are the black fly (Simulium) and the midge (Culicoides) which are mostly active from March to around November time and re-occurs every year. This is a condition that can affect any Horse, Pony or Donkey.

Symptoms Of Sweet Itch

The reaction of the insect bites causes intense itching and swelling of the skin most commonly around the equines mane, tail, forelock, head and ears. In more severe cases this can affect other areas such as the mid line of the belly, along the spine, sheath and udder areas. You will find your equine may try to rub on anything within reach (even you) and they will roll more than normal or try to lie down dragging themselves along to scratch there belly.
Intense itching can result in:

  • Open wounds (sores)
    Broken hair
  • Flaky dandruff in all areas of skin
    Thickening of the skin, which can also lead on to more irritation
    Secondary infections

Every horse, pony or donkey is different and some may tolerate the itchiness better than others. Severe cases of Sweet Itch can affect the equine’s behaviour in many ways such as:

  • Head Shaking
    Vigorous tail swishing
  • Pacing up and down in the field
    Change of temperament
    Agitated i.e. – biting himself.
    Becoming lethargic

Preventing Sweet Itch

Please ensure that your equine has been professionally diagnosed with Sweet Itch before commencing with treatments, as sometimes Sweet Itch could be mistaken for other ailments.

There are many ways to help prevent Sweet Itch, start by treating Sweet Itch in early Spring so this will ensure you give your equine the best start coming into the Sweet Itch season.

How To Treat Sweet Itch

Using a specially formulated lotion on the affected area will prevent the irritable itch and scratching. The lotion is a creamy gel which provides long-lasting, soothing relief for itchy, irritated skin while also being an effective fly repellent. There are many other products on the market for Sweet Itch including fly repellents.

Along with using specially made products to reduce symptoms of Sweet Itch we find it important that you give your equine regular baths during the months where this condition occurs. It has proven to help our equines here stay comfortable and keep the effects of the condition down to a minimum.

We ensure every equine at the Centre with Sweet Itch has their own Sweet Itch rug too. There is a wide variety of Sweet Itch rugs on the market which are highly recommended and have shown fantastic results in effected equines. The rugs provide an effective barrier against insect bites and prevent symptoms of this condition.

Keep your equine happy in the warmer weather with our helpful, handy tips, to find out more about the products you can use to prevent and treat that itch head over to our online shop Surviving Spring, Flies & Sweetitch – The Fussy Filly