Sweet itch

My mare arrived from the UK last spring, and immediately started scratching and itching, clearly for the first time since she arrived with a full gypsy cob mane and within a week or two had none.

I have been looking at sweet itch treatment and prevention but wondered if anybody here has any views or experiences and suggestions as to how to deal with this. The vet said it was a mosquito allergy, but I think she might have said that since she didn't know the word for midges, since I can find no references to mosquito bite allergy in horses anywhere on the net!

I was able to control the itching quite well, it was never as bad as some horses suffer from it, but I don't want her to suffer at all, and her mane is growing back and I want to keep it that way so any views very welcome.

Thanks in advance


It's "dermite estivale" in French.

Had a pony who suffered from it, got him a rug from these people: http://www.solva-icelandics.co.uk/, he wore it all summer, worked a treat!

Hi Kitty

My mare suffers from sweet-itch, she has a boett rug to keep the midges off her, I got this from sweet-itch.co.uk along with a lot of information , I hope this helps.


Oh yuk, I had a tick once when I was in scotland, it was disgusting. I am happy to say that so far in france I have not found any on my horse, dog or cats. THe horse has been vaccinated against whatever it is that ticks can give them, I can't remember what it is.

Whereabouts on the horses do you find them?

I had the vet out straight away and she looked for mites as she thought it was probably that but there was nothing to be found, hence her diagnosis of mosquitoes. But the more I think about it, the more I think she just didn't know the words for sweet itch or midges - she was talking English at the time. I can't remember the word for sweet itch in french, does anybody know?

Thanks Therese

Thanks to you all for your very helpful responses. In fact I used Butox last summer too, for the disgusting flat flies and it was fantastic, I can’t say that I noticed it had a huge effect on the itching mind you, but now come to think of it maybe it was the Butox that curedd her.

I had found on lots of forums that the Butox (I call it Botox, can’t help myself) is very expensive, but I bought it direct from my vet, and it was not expensive at all, I bought enough for two summers and it was only about €20, the same price as a useless fly spray from Decathlon. I have got the impression that it really depends where you are and who your vet is.

Regarding the boet rug, I found a cheaper version if anybody is thinking about getting another - it is the de Meulenkamp, they are a dutch firm run by one of the original Boet people. They might be worth a look.

You can buy them from the UK but I thought I would find out if I could get them cheaper direct from Holland in Euros, and indeed you can, and for only €13 postage too. I think I will see how she goes this spring with the Butox and if no good I will go for the demeulenkamp rug.

THank you all so much.

Fiona, when are you going to start the Butox this year? I am right down by the med here, it is 15 degrees today after a week of rain, and my mare’s paddock is right under loads of pines, which apparently midges just love, so I really am not sure when to start…

I can’t move her, sadly, she is at livery and each horse has its own paddock. They are all really sheltered too, as that is what we need down here for everything else except midges…


Like Helen says, you should check that it’s not fleas or some kind of parasite. My cob also had this problem and the vet gave me a product called Sarnacuran: quite toxic but effective, a few applications and they were all dead.

Bizarely one of our horses suddenly develped bad sweet itch symptoms in less than 24 hours when we moved him to a new field, so we did everything the same as we would normally but it seems that when we moved him back further up the hill the symptoms eased. So I suggest if the horse has not had sweet itch before look at the field and see if it is near a marshy area or small stream and if you can move it to slightly higher ground where there is more breeze then that might help. I'm not saying that my or your horse doesn't have sweet itch, just to take a good look around as the vet may well be right. Also our old mare who had sweet itch in the UK so we put her in a boet cover all summer and it worked a dream, only took it off to ride her.

Also Fiona please could you let me have the website for Butox, thanks.

Good luck