ADVICE needed, fungi growing on heels and coronets??

Discussion in 'Horse Management' started by linc, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. linc

    linc New Member

    Hi there. Im new to this forum and reaching out hoping that someone out there has seen this before?


    My Vet and I have been battling this for 3 years now and I cannot believe that we can't find a cure. Please note we have biopsied for Pemphigus. Samples sent to the States (we are in New Zealand) to a specialist, was told twice that it is NOT Pemphigus or Coronary Band Disease.

    A short history:

    OTTB Gelding, brought as a 3 year old with this condition, The vet thought it was a mud fever at the vet check.

    He has never been lame. Condition worse on his back heels. Presents like fingered/threads of fungi? when you pick it off it reveals pink skin underneath. You can wash it off after a long soak, leaves skin raw but doesn't weep? Just grows back.

    If it dries out and gets knocked off he will bleed very lightly, but just like a scrape.

    Around the coronet band its dry and in winter will also grow the same textured fungi things.

    Hair sticks out at odd straight angle.

    NO other skin conditions. No Ulcers in mouth. Great overall condition and is a happy healthy rehabilitated OTTB.

    We have tried steroids (no real change)
    Taken him off grass in case of contact allergy, we stabled him 24/7 in wraps!!(lots of walks in the soft arena during the day to get rid of energy, but NO Change)
    Topical Steroids (nothing)
    Mud Fever Creams (just soaks of the fungi thing)
    Medicated foaming washes( Helps but doest get rid of it?)
    Manuka Honey, nappy rash cream, Vitamin A, pretty much all the creams in the shops I have tried!

    Best results come from a mix of canneston (anti fungal cream) and manuka, but not sure if this just keeps the condition moist, so it washes off easier?

    Here are some more images of it after a wash:


    and just some more in general:




    I would really like to solve this! as i'm worried its painful for him, and also not great for his hoof wall in general.

    ANY ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated!!
  2. linc

    linc New Member

    Hi, not sure what is in prednoderm? I have had a look at the ingredients, and I think i have treated with something similar to this, but I will send to my vet and request that he source that!

    Each treatment has been tried for a couple of months or more each. He was stabled for the full winter over here and had fresh bedding all the time! He has a treatment rubbed into his feet daily, just depends on what we are testing.

    It def does not spread anywhere else up the leg, or does not seem to be contagious.
  3. old_mate

    old_mate Well-known Member

    Have you tried soaking them in a bucket of Epsom Salts and warm water?
    Or soaking in a bucket of really salty water? Ratio of salt one cup to one litre water.
    Applying Betadine 10% povidone-iodine
    Some horses can have a reaction to povidone, none of mine ever have.
    Fugi don't like high salt environments.
    Vinegar would bump the fungi off too, it works in my shower just not sure how the horses skin would take it?
    Most of the time a good soak in Epsom salts and warm water or salt water will take care of horses hooves.
    I have been told of old timers using Stockholm tar and yellow sulphur powder, but that is very messy.
  4. old_mate

    old_mate Well-known Member

    Just retread what you have already tried, soaking hooves for 30mins in warm very salt water should really help.
    Or if you have a boyfriend or husband you could get him to pee on the fungus.
    Fungi really does not like wee. Lol
    If you really start scraping the barrel the last one is worth ago, just don't tell anyone.:)*
  5. linc

    linc New Member

    Alas I did try ages ago through the winter soaking the feet in Epsom salts, I even bought these soaking boots to tie on!

    And I have also tried the Stockholm tar as well.

    I could try the salts again though... Maybe as it's summer over here the fungi will be less resistant?

    I'm awaiting another lot of bloods which we are testing for zinc and copper levels...
  6. old_mate

    old_mate Well-known Member

    Did you use yellow sulfur, the sulfur did the job and the tar was the holding medium.
    Have you done the really high salt normal( not Epsom) soaks sounds really simple but well worth a try.
  7. Caroline

    Caroline Well-known Member

    May just be able to help you. We had an arab boy that had similar greasy heal type stuff but it was not that. And then a friend mentioned her gelding had the same thing. Anti-biotics's were required because of the underlying skin infection.

    Turns out the horse is anaemic. Lacking iron and that creates it. Almost an auto-immune response.

    Get your vet to do a full blood profile to check iron levels.

    There are several good iron supps out there but get a more natural iron based one. Feed it for 3 months and see what happens.
    Good luck.**)
  8. linc

    linc New Member

    Hi Caroline, that's really interesting , I can't remember if we went down the antibiotics route! I have asked my vet to check his iron in the bloods we took the other day and have sent him your suggestion so fingers crossed. It's interesting you say it was almost an auto immune response as it just looks so similar to some pics of CBD but doesn't present the weepy skin under or any other symptoms. The equine skin specialist who ruled out pemphigus and CBD said it was essentially a form of greasy heel and likened it to a kid with eczema... I'm quite excited with this possibility.

    And yes Old Mate, I will def try the soaking in warm/high salt levels again, I have done a sulphur mixed with a baby nappy rash cream!

    I have been thinking for quite a long time now that it's a problem some within, and while topical treatments will help they ought not solve the problem unless he is treated for what he is lacking?

    He is on platinum performance, electrolytes and equishure for his hind gut, along with flax seed oil for omegas, his coat is rich and glossy it's just this darn problem on his heels!

    Will test for iron! Fingers crossed!
  9. ZaZa

    ZaZa Guest

    Have a read through here Linc. Stockies member Debonair went to hell and back trying to sort her boys issues but she got there in the end.

    There are other threads about this boy and the end result, I'm just try to find them for you but if you go up to the top of the page ^^^ under the Stockyard banner you can use the search function to fish around.
    Debonair's boy had bleeding of the coronets and chestnuts but his heels looked very similar to you boy's.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2014
  10. linc

    linc New Member

    Hi ZaZa, Yes thanks for that post, Actually Debonair is what made me sign up and post to this site as they looked really similar to my boys heels. I actually sent her an email, as she said she found a herbal fix, but never broke down the actual ingredients in the tonic she started feeding him? If anyone knows those details I would love to try!
  11. ZaZa

    ZaZa Guest

    Perhaps you she can give you the name of her herbalist and they can break it down for you ?
    I just sent you a PM Linc.
  12. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    Just wondering what your Farrier thinks this is?
  13. Caroline

    Caroline Well-known Member

  14. Jacky Y

    Jacky Y New Member

    Fungal feet

    I would be having a close look at the Copper/Zinc balance in the horses diet.
    Anemic horses may not be short of iron but have a copper zinc deficiency.
    Fungal infections often are common when that balance is out.
  15. Murray

    Murray Well-known Member Staff Member

    this is a liver problem resulting from a vitamin b deficiency which can be treated by feeding your horse brewers yeast. start with 1 tablespoon per day and work up to 3 tablespoons per day. be patient and over time you will see the fungi dry up.**)

  16. SueC

    SueC New Member

    Hi Linc

    Skin conditions can be one of the trickiest things to diagnose and treat. This is why humans have dermatologists. If you know any dermatologists, they spend a lot of time rolling their eyes over the attempted treatments by the referring general practitioners.

    One of the most common dermatologist laments is over the use of steroids in treating skin conditions. Steroids turn off the immune response. This often makes a rash look better, because the immune response itself is often part of the reason the rash shows up, whether you are dealing with a contact allergy (immune system responding to allergen), an infection (immune system fighting pathogenic bacteria, fungi, or other types of pathogens, or parasites), or autoimmune disorder (immune system attacking parts of own body). But what steroids don't do is address the CAUSE of the rash, and if the cause is an infection, then the underlying infection often continues or gets worse with steroid treatment even though the rash may improve.

    Steroids really shouldn't be used unless you KNOW the cause of the problem, and it's not an infection; or if you're treating a known infection with an effective antidote at the same time (sometimes steroids then help because the immune response can cause changes in the skin which ironically assist the infection). Unfortunately, many GPs and veterinarians keep prescribing them without knowing what the problem is, just because steroids often make things look better while being applied - treating the symptom rather than the cause - and often things clear up spontaneously regardless.

    When dealing with the kind of problem your horse has, ideally one gets a lab to run some cultures to see if an infectious agent can be identified, i.e. actually pin down exactly what the pathogen is, if indeed there is one. If you know what it is, you get a clearer idea of how to treat it. For example, if you're dealing with bacterial infections, different bacteria have varying susceptibilities to different types of antibiotics, and antibiotic therapy should be tailored to the particular bacteria identified as causing the infection, because not all antibiotics kill all types of bacteria (and because, if you're treating systemically with antibiotics, i.e. orally or by injection, and you can avoid using an antibiotic that's going to really slam the good bugs in the gut as well, then that's a good idea).

    If the infection is fungal, antibiotics won't help one bit; antifungals have to be used. If it's something else, like an actinomycete or pathogenic protist (obscure microbes that are neither bacteria nor fungi), treatment is different again; or if it's a virus, but I would think it's unlikely that your horse's skin condition is caused by a virus.

    So you can see why it's often so difficult to actually identify the pathogen even with laboratory testing - there are myriads of species of pathogenic bacteria, fungi, etc and the tests are quite specific, so you could run hundreds of expensive tests and come up with nothing (or you might get lucky). A more practical approach would be to treat topically (apply agents to the skin) with a combined broad-spectrum antibiotic/antifungal (Dermapred is useful) and see if you get any results, before going down the road of laboratory testing.

    Murdoch University (if you're in WA; if not, find a university with a vet school in your state) would be good for you to talk to; they love solving these kind of puzzles. You could take your horse in for a consult or even just send them your photos and treatment to date in case they've seen it before - because they are more likely than the rest of us to have seen exactly this problem before.

    The little growths on your horse's heel are not fungi, they are just cracked, sick skin, which could be caused by fungi, bacteria etc (and I would guess you do have an infection of some sort here, not an allergy or autoimmune problem). Infectious fungi are microscopic - you can't see them with your bare eye.

    You're sure it's not greasy heel?

    One comment that might be helpful: Conditions like greasy heel (which looks similar to your horse's photos) and rain scald are almost impossible to clear up unless your topical (applied to the skin) treatment effectively targets the underlying organism and you are removing the scabs over the top of them before you treat. And then, you have to treat preferably multiple times daily for weeks to knock it back. Miss a treatment, and you can be back to square one.

    It's great to also do what good naturopaths will do, which is to look at what caused your horse to be susceptible to the problem in the first place. By all means look at your animal's mineral status etc, and maybe provide some good essential fatty acids which are often helpful in healing skin. But remember that pathogenic microbes are good at causing infections - it's their job. Once a pathogen gets into the skin (little abrasions are often enough) and sets up a reaction like the one on your horse, it can be really hard to shift even in a super-healthy horse, unless you specifically target the pathogen and treat directly for it.

    Hope some of this proves useful.

    :) Sue
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014
  17. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    Wow Sue, you sound like a really handy person to have on this forum! Hope you stick around! And welcome! :))
  18. Ponies4Me

    Ponies4Me Well-known Member

    Find an equine vet with some knowledge on auto immune disease and get them to have a look. You need a diagnosis before you can treat anything and no one on the internet can do that from a couple of pics.

    Had one (AID) and it took a long time and several vets for it to be diagnosed and managed. Prednisone orally was the only thing that 'held' it in check and it came to the point where that wasn't enough.

    Good luck with getting some answers, it is so frustrating knowing something is amiss, but not having a diagnosis.
  19. linc

    linc New Member

    Just thought I would post an update on this issue in case anyone out there is also fighting the same problem. We have managed to 90% clear this fungi, and its mid winter over here so that is a feat in itself.

    The winning formula is herbal. He is fed the following:

    1 tb Kelp
    1 tsp Vitamin C powder
    tb Fenugreek
    Handful of calming chamomile flowers
    5mls of Ginko tonic
    Coconut Oil
    and a Magnesium tonic made by Hira Labs in NZ.

    He also gets manuka honey/canneston/coconut oil on the heels.

    The results are amazing. I would say come summer he will completely heeled.
  20. Faxie

    Faxie Well-known Member

    Try & get hold of Blackbat or Debonair on here, especially Debonair both had very similar problems with their horses..

    I'm not totally sure & haven read all this thread but a key point to fixing was eliminating grains or certain feed..

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