Contact dermatitis

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin reaction resulting from direct-contact with an irritating agent and horse's skin. Moisture (humid weather, sweating, bathing, etc.) enhances the reaction. Pruritus might be mild to severe, sometimes painful. Primary lesions include the development of papules and vesicles, followed by a wide range of types of secondary lesions.
Plants Capable of Causing Contact Dermatitis in Horses

There are a wide range of causes of contact dermatitis---as it can be caused by anything from a particular clothing-like material (cotton, jute, chrome, hemp, etc.) used in blankets, fly sheets, leg wraps, towel, saddle pad, girth, or even something worn by the handler), grooming tool (particular brush), topical insecticides and shampoos, stall bedding, medication, and certain types of plants found in the pasture or within the stable yard or within reach of the horse (contact dermatitis-causing plants).

The location of the reaction can usually aid in the determination of its cause. A reaction in the girth region is likely related to the material the girth is made from. A reaction on the lower limbs of the horse would most likely be the cause of contact-dermatitis causing plants or a reaction to leg wrap material.


Hair loss
Dry skin
Reddening of skin


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Patch testing


Determining and eliminating the causeMaking environmental or managerial modifications to eliminate or minimize the horse from exposure to the cause of contact dermatitis
Topical and/or systemic glucocorticoidsMay be needed for severe or unavoidable reactions


  • Minimize horses risk of contact with contact dermatitis causing plants

Scientific Research References

    Good Overviews

    Risk Factors

    • Repeated contact with contact dermatitis causing plants