Isis' abdomen

Some guys get belly button lint, and Isis just gets gunk. About two weeks ago, Isis had a swelling on the right side of her abdomen. Not very large — maybe about a hand long by 2-3 fingers wide. I used a topical tea-tree oil and hydrocortisone ointment on it. The swelling went away after a few days. She lost some of her hair on the spot where the swelling was. Not just in little areas, but in good size chunks.

She has continued losing hair on her belly. The hair feels a little oily and scurfy. I had not felt any rain rot lumps on her belly before today.

This past Saturday, I noticed a small swelling on the left side of her abdomen right next to her belly button. It was soft, not hot, and about 1″ wide by 2″ long. I used some put some of the tea-tree oil and hydrocortisone ointment on her belly spots and treated the rainrot with Cowboy Magic Krud Buster along her spine. The bad spots on her legs were treated with a concoction of Desitin (zinc oxide ointment), hydrocortisone, Furacin, and Desinex (antifungal).

I talked to my vet today about how Isis looked. She suggested taking pictures. This afternoon, I left work early so I could do just that.

I carry a small Sony Cybershot U50 with me at all times (thanks again to my sister for that lovely Christmas present!). At 4 inches long by about 1.5 inches wide, the camera is a perfect size for quick, candid shots. Or in this case, quick photographs without having to go home and retrieve the Big Camera. The Big Camera would have been too large and awkward.

The pictures are linked within the text and are also available here.

I carried Isis’ grooming kit out to her pasture. She nickered several times when she saw me. I took off her grazing muzzle and let her enjoy the pasture while I crawled underneath her to take pictures. (Please note that this isn’t a safe thing to do unless you really know your horse — even then if your horse spooks you could be in serious trouble.)
The LCD on my camera swivels separately from the lens, so I could see the underside of her belly without actually having to be lay on the ground under her.

The swelling on the left side of her belly button had increased by 2-3″ towards her left side. It was soft and did not feel hot to the touch. The hair was still coming off in clumps. When I ran my fingers over her belly, I found several lumps — a wad of yellow scabs. No smell to them. These scabs were focused on the left side of her belly button where the swelling had started. The scabs came off easily without much pulling. The skin underneath was a red and oozing, but not an angry red.

The right side of her abdomen, where she had been losing hair earlier, appears to have healthy skin with a few spots of scabbing. It’s not hot or swollen any more. She continues to shed under her belly.

After cleaning her belly, I used Nolvasan ointment on her stomach. Hopefully that will help the skin heal and kill whatever infection might be growing. I also used the Nolvasan on some of her rainrot.

The rainrot on her back appears to be clearing up. The spots on her hocks, back legs, heels, and back are healing over. There are a few spots left, but the skin no longer feels hot to the touch. She seems to be shedding every where, but a regular spring shedding–not tufts like the hair on her abdomen.

I’m perplexed what might be causing this. Is it a case of rainrot that has spread from her back to her belly?

Categories: Horses

Kim (Ceffyl)

Writing rider.


3horsemom · July 2, 2010 at 22:52

I realize that this is probably a pretty old post but I am very curious as to how this condition resolved? My gelding has the exact same thing and I have decided that it must be rain rot all under his belly & even down his legs (dew poisoning). By the time I realized that something was “cooking” it had totally taken over his underbelly, complete with heat & swelling. This gelding has NEVER had anything like this since I’ve known him & he’s 22 yrs old! I am having the toughest time with the lower back legs because they are so very sensitive & really crusty with the condition….on top of that, they are now sunburned. Poor guy. It all seemed to be better today, but I don’t know that I have the right combination of products to use on it yet. I would love to hear the rest of this story!

    Ceffyl Aedui · July 3, 2010 at 00:02

    Hi! I’m really sorry to hear about your boy. I’m glad that he doesn’t get this often, but boy some times they just get a hard case to solve.

    Dealing with skin issues is never fun. Isis has had some kind of skin gunk since she was little. She has insulin resistance so it seems like she is more susceptible to everything. It sounds like your boy has a similar tendency (not necessarily caused by the same thing).

    Isis turned out to not be rain rot on her belly. Initially I thought it was — although I had never had anything like this happen before but she has a long history of weird skin issues.

    When the vet saw the pictures, we agreed to have her come out. She biopsied Isis’ belly and sent the tests off to the lab.

    The test results showed that it was an allergic reaction. to fly bites (Culicoides allergic reaction, see ). Sweet itch normally comes up in spring or summer, not winter. So this was very strange. The vet was surprised, too.

    We started Isis on antihistamines for a few days and her condition improved tremendously. The swelling was gone within a couple of days. (You can get Anihist or Histall at your local feed store.)

    I used the tea tree oil/hydrocortisone cream on the swelling initially. It seemed to help.

    I went back through my archives and I don’t have a record of exactly what I used on her belly. It might have been Nolvasan ointment once we realized it was an allergic reaction. You might ask your vet what he/she recommends in this case.

    The stuff she had on her belly was different than the stuff she gets on her legs (see new blog post with pictures). The thick black scabs that look like scratches or dew poisoning were treated with a combination of Desitine, Desinex, hydrocortisone cream, and furocin. I can send you the exact recipe if you want it. (A lady at the barn uses the same stuff women use for a yeast infection to treat her horse’s dew poisoning.)

    The nasty black scabs were not picked off. I used the concoction on the scabs until they eventually fell off. It took a few weeks for her legs to heal. The poor girl was lame from the swelling. The scabs were as thick as my thumb on some of her legs.

    Isis would get three types of gunk: belly bunk, dew poisoning/scratches, and rain rot. She got the stuff very frequently: I’ve lost about half of her available riding time to medical issues and rain rot. Just before she was first diagnosed with IR, she would get rain rot so bad she’d be almost bald with it. She got it on the tips of her ears, her hocks, sweat lines — pretty much every where. (Having insulin resistance messes with her immune system so something other horses fend off can go systemic on her unless the IR is properly managed.)

    With Isis, once we identified the insulin resistance and began treating it, she had the nutritional resources to fight off rain rot and other skin issues.

    When she had rain rot really bad and the belly stuff, she was also in the recovery period from laminitis and tendon injury. She was started on a coat, hoof, and joint supplement called Joint Hoof Combo (or something like that). It has zinc, biotin, MSM, glucosamine, and some other trace elements. The zinc and biotin helped her skin — and she was able to fend off most of the rain rot on her own after that.

    Most of Isis’ rain-rot like issues have been resolved by treating her IR. She is on Purina Wellness L/S (low starch) grain, D-Carb supplement (high Magnesium with trace minerals (including zinc), Bio-flax (biotin with high omega 3s), and MSM.

    I hope our gelding recovers quickly. It’s so hard when they get skin stuff like this.

    I’ll write up a new post with the pictures of her legs from when she had dew poisoning in 2003. Poor girl had it from her hocks to her coronary band on her back feet and on the white on her front leg and on her black leg in the front too. Her legs were so swollen you could barely see her tendons.

    Please keep me posted on how your boy does! And with any condition, if you aren’t sure, call your vet.

3horsemom · July 3, 2010 at 09:00

This is interesting, because Duke is also IR. I suspect that because of his age, we may have to deal with Cushings some day too (but not yet, thank goodness!) Our vet here doesn’t do the Insulin:Glucose blood draw recommended by the EC/IR email list, so it’s never been actually confirmed through blood work but he is a classic case. However, he’s been under control through diet with none of those subtle symptoms (fat pads over the eyes, runny goopy eyes, cresty, etc.) for a couple of years now & no laminitis for probably 4 years now.

However, he was recently compromised in another way, and that was that we had extremely high heat & humidity here in West Tennessee a couple of weeks ago with heat indeces of 110+. Unknown to me, he had developed anhidrosis! So I find him one afternoon about to have a heat stroke because he was unable to cool off. It actually took a day or two for me to realize that’s what was happening, all I knew was that he would be fine after I would run cold water over him for 10 minutes or so, but would heat back up over time….so until the weather cooled I was making at least 3 trips per day out there to cool him off (not possible at this barn to have him inside & under a fan, unfortunately).

It was during one of these trips that I noticed his belly had started swelling right along the 2 muscles that go from between his two front legs all the way alongside his underbelly almost to his groin. It was tender to the touch and had some heat in it. I stopped down at the vet nearby (not my usual vet but is a horse vet) and talked with her. She was in agreement about the anhydrosis & agreed that One AC would have a good chance of helping with that (I had already ordered some), also thought that maybe he had irritated his muscles from panting. She suggested banamine for a couple of days and I did that and believe that helped.

It was AFTER all that that the scabby places started developing….and a couple of days after that that I noticed his back legs developing problems too. I had wondered about whether the bites could have also been a culprit in the swelling, but decided that it had to be rain rot after everything I’ve been reading (lots of mud around here when things are so wet & he is notorious for wanting to stay covered in it!)

Anyway, I have a good friend that has suggested Tea Tree Oil mixed with Jojoba for his legs….I just don’t have any idea where to find Jojoba oil!! I have found something I can pick up locally that has Tea Tree oil as well as lanolin & other soothing ingredients and is an antiseptic treatment….I am thinking that this might be a good choice for those back legs. It’s antiseptic & soothing at the same time. Meanwhile, Duke’s belly has already started drying up with using a benzalconium chloride based spray. The 2 abdominal muscles are still swollen some, but I think they will resolve once everything else has resolved (it’s been cooler this week thank goodness!…and he’s been on his One AC for just a few days now).

Anyway, that’s a very long saga, but I agree with you that when they are compromised in some way it opens them up for issues like this. I had decided that duke’s recent episode had compromised him which made this whole situation just explode.

Your picture of isis’ belly was funny to me, because I had done the same with Duke (I didn’t lay under him, I just put my camera under there to see what I could get). Her picture was the closest thing that I have been able to come across since I’ve been looking around to solve Duke’s dilemma. I have tried to resist having more vet bills right now (like everyone, we’ve been hit by this economy too!), and as long as I see he’s improving I will probably try to deal with this on my own…but won’t hesitate to call the vet out if it looks like we’re not making progress.

Thanks for all the great info! I hope Isis continues to do well :).

    Ceffyl Aedui · July 4, 2010 at 00:54

    It sounds like Isis and Duke have a lot in common. I also found the EC list and was overwhelmed with the information there. Lots of good stuff.

    A few years ago, i lived in Knoxville and then moved to NC. Where in Tennessee are you?

    Isis hasn’t had anihidrosis (at least not yet) but she has had real trouble with the heat this year. She’s inside during the day under two fans and hosed off regularly if she gets sweaty.

    Do you think the reaction on your horse’s belly is related to the anihidrosis? Or is it separate?

    What did you do to get your horse’s IR under control?

    Isis is having trouble with the IR right now. Not much but there are little signs (fat pads over her eyes). her attitude is still good. She’s not cresty (well no more than usual) and her attitude is good. She’s dry lotted and periodically gets maybe 30 minutes of turn out on grass per day.

    She has strange lumps right where the girth goes on both sides. I have no idea what they are. I tried two weeks on antihistamine, but that didn’t help. I’ve tried topical creams, clipping the area, everything I can think of. I’ll write a post with pictures about those. Have you ever seen anything like that?

    You might find some Jojoba oil at a place like Earth Faire or Whole Foods or another health food store. Around here, Trader Joe’s carries tea tree oil, too. Where did you find the spray you mentioned?

    I used T-Zon (tea tree oil with hydrocortisone) ointment on Isis’ belly: I’ve used it on her rain rot as well some times. Although the recipe my vet gave me (see post about Dew poisoning 2003 for ingredients) has worked very well. I just discovered that my youngest mare, Kasane, has scratches on three feet. Not bad, but enough that it’s visible.

    I’m really enjoying corresponding. It’s always nice to know someone else who has a horse with mysterious skin issues.

    Thank you for the info as well! I’m learning a lot from your posts.

    Here’s hoping both our kids get over their current skin issues!

3horsemom · July 4, 2010 at 08:28

We live in Jackson, which is between Memphis & Nashville. My mom lives in Knoxville though :). She has lived there for a few years….married a man from the area. We just went to visit over Memorial Day.

When I first learned that Duke had foundered (right after buying him about 8 years ago) I had no idea what any of it even was. Then a friend of mine started telling me about some stuff she was learning about Insulin Resistance and how Duke seemed to fit the profile for that. We did at least know enough to put him on a dry lot right away, and that started my ongoing research on IR!!

We have been really fortunate because it seems that Duke is not the most severe case we could have. Pretty much if we can keep his weight down, it makes all the difference in the world. In fact, he can tolerate being on grass as long as he comes in off of it every night. So I am very lucky in that!! He has been on little to no grass though for a couple of years now and looks better than he ever has…no symptoms at all.

I have used Wellsolve L/S and W/C with him, and had him on APF for years (which I REALLY like, but it’s expensive), and most recently we tried Acetyl-L-Carnatine, which I do think helped also. I just dropped the APF within the last year because he’s doing so well without it, but if he weren’t doing ok he would still be on it. Adaptogens are just so good for us!! In fact, on the EC/IR list you can find homemade versions of the adaptogens in APF if you ever want to try that. Took him off the ALCAR too just because he seems to be doing well without.

Duke is now able to tolerate 2-3lbs of SafeChoice with another 1-2lb of Timothy pellets (Standlee) every day, a bermuda round bale during the day, and a couple of bermuda square bales at night. His weight is great, he is not cresty, he no longer has fat pads over his eyes….I have just never seen him look so good!! It is such a relief.

Sounds like you’re doing pretty much all you can to help Isis with her IR. Something has got to be off if she’s still having some issues. Is she overweight? The skinny IR horses are the hardest….I had one of those too!! Finally got her to a good “place” with her IR too.

As for the anhidrosis….my theory is that he got REALLY stressed during that horrible heat because his body couldn’t sweat, & it just compromised his whole system. At 22 years old I think that probably the anhiddrosis came before the skin reaction. I have just NEVER seen him have a skin issue like he ended up with!! We are at a barn now where the owner is nervous about having fans plugged in & running while no one is there, so being under a fan during the day is not going to be possible for Mr. Duke. So i am going to just have to watch him. I have a friend (same one who helped me research in the beginning stages of learning about IR) who is horse-sitting for me while we go on a trip next week….she will bring him inside under a fan during the day & let him out at night, which he will love.

This same friend is the one who told me about the Tea Tree & Jojoba. I told her yesterday that if she would make me up a bottle I would just buy it from her!! So she was checking to see if she had the ingredients. She has done some classes on herbs, etc. & knows a little about what she’s doing. If you want me to get her to make up a bottle for you to, let me know….we might just start her a little tonic-selling business….LOL!

I will look for the pics of the lumps you talked about. I can’t imagine, other than wondering if there is something about the girth that is causing it??? I will look at it and see if I have any ideas. These guys could put us all in the poor house if we ran to the vet every single time we have an issue, couldn’t they!!! I love them so much though 🙂

Great to talk to you again. I have a feeling that we will be continuing our conversations 🙂

    Ceffyl Aedui · July 5, 2010 at 23:45

    Small world isn’t it? I lived in south Knoxville and used to date a guy in Nashville. Funny how that works. 🙂

    What breed is Duke? Seems like Arabs and Morgans are very prone to IR. (Isis is an Arabian.)

    Really glad to hear that he is doing so well! Are you happy with Safe Choice? Isis wouldn’t eat it, but she will eat Well Solve with some beet pulp in it.

    Let me know how your mixture works. It’d be great to know that about other solutions for rain rot besides some of the expensive treatments.

    I haven’t tried APF but i might check into it. You are right — that is really expensive stuff! I’ll check the EC list for the recipe you mentioned. Some of the reviewers noted that it helped horses recover from EPM. I might have to try the EC recipe: Isis had EPM last year.

    I think isis is having a flare up of the IR from lack of exercise. I had a trail ride on the four year old so I focused a lot on her training. Isis has had those lumps right where the girth goes so I’ve been riding bareback. It has also been so hot that I couldn’t easily work Isis. (I picked up riding and working Isis again this weekend but the temperatures are supposed to be close to 100 again this week.)

    It sounds feasible that the flare up of his skin conditions was from a stressed situation where his immune system was compromised. Isn’t it funny how things like stress will mess with their immune systems and cause everything else to go out of whack?

    Really glad that he will be under a fan and out at night. Isis has two fans in her stall and they help her tremendously. She’s also getting electrolytes in her food every day, garlic, salt, and some vinegar. Except for the very subtle sign of fat pads above her eye, she has been doing very well. Good weight but still some fat pads. I think the exercise will have her back under control in a little while… at least I hope.

    I’m writing the post about her lumpy bumps. I took additional pictures today, so I have a record of them for about 2 months. The lumps have looked worse this weekend. Makes me wonder if the size of the lumps is tied to her IR. We also just stopped the antihistamines a few days ago, and the lumps have gotten worse since then. I haven’t used the girth on her in maybe 6 weeks. We’ve only been riding bareback.

    Sorry to hear that your boy had laminitis too. Isis had two cases but luckily little to no rotation. She’s fully recovered from it (last episode was six years ago).

    Enjoy your vacation!

      3horsemom · July 6, 2010 at 09:01

      If Isis is happy with Wellsolve & beet pulp I would probably stick with that. Do you rinse/soak/rinse your bp?? The only downside is that Wellsolve could be a little high in iron, but it’s nearly impossible to get everything right!! Duke loves SafeChoice and will only eat his Timothy pellets if they have enough SafeChoice in them. I do worry about it being to high in Sugar/Starch, but so far he’s doing well & has started needed a few extra calories (that’s a first!!). I tried to get him to eat some Beet Pulp Pellets but he didn’t like them (which shocked me….he likes everything!). These supposedly had a little molasses in them but I tasted of them (yes I have to try his new feeds sometimes) and it didn’t taste like there was ANYthink sweet in there, so I didn’t try to rinse or soak them. As I said, he didn’t like them anyway so I don’t give it to him any more.

      Duke is a Paint. They are also pre-disposed with that “thrifty” gene. I am SO thankful that we are able to control him with a little weight control & not have to watch absolutely everything that he eats.

      I ended up finding an Absorbine product that has Tea Tree Oil in it & some other good stuff. I think it’s going to be just the trick & it wasn’t very expensive. I found it at my local feed store (I think Smartpak may carry this too). It came together with a shampoo that also had TT oil. The spray is clear & the shampoo is green. It really fit the bill for what I was looking for, so I got it and treated Duke with it yesterday. It was obviously soothing to him because he didn’t try to pull his legs away from me while I was applying. I think it’s going to do the trick and my good friend is going to continue to treat him while we’re gone.

      Isn’t it great that they can come back from laminitis & be 100% again? Duke’s feet are good now too. His only issue now is that he developed a little gimp from a stifle issue a few years back…he had a bone cyst. The cyst went away but he still gimps just a tad at the trot….some days it’s barely noticeable. He’s still awesome for trail riding though and still has a ton of “try”. He will do his best to do anything in the world that I ask him to. He’s just an awesome old fella! 🙂

      Great to talk to you some more. This is probably my last post until we get back. Have a great week!

[2003] Dew poisoning on Isis’ legs | Y Ceffyl Du · July 3, 2010 at 03:12

[…] reader asked a question about Isis’ February 2006 case of belly gunk. In addition to her gelding having the same belly gunk that Isis had, he also has a bad case of […]

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