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Sweet Itch

Sweet Itch is a distressing skin condition that affects thousands of horses across the world, where it is also known as Queensland Itch, Summer Itch, Summer Eczema and Seasonal Dermatitis.

It occurs in varying degrees of severity in horses of various breeds, and there appears to be a genetic link. It is particularly common in Icelandic horses.


Sweet Itch is a summer condition caused by a hypersensitivity to the bites of the Culicoides flies (also called midges and ‘no-see-ums’). After being bitten, some horses are allergic to a substance in the saliva of the fly, which causes a local reaction. This in turn causes intense irritation with severe itching, which the horse tries to relieve by rubbing and biting itself.

The culicoides midges are present in the UK from April to October. They feed primarily at dusk and dawn, and tend to feed on the horse at specific sites, particularly around the head, tail head, withers, and base of the mane, however other areas, including the chest, back and rump can also be affected.

The midges like to breed on wet land, and around rivers, lakes and standing water, so susceptible horses kept close to these conditions are more likely to be affected.


Affected animals are very itchy and distressed, and rub and bite themselves intensely.

The fly bites form blisters, which can weep, causing crusting, scabs and scaling. Prolonged rubbing and biting results in, hair loss and damage to the skin, with sometimes bleeding open sores.

Occasionally secondary bacterial infections can occur. It is also not uncommon for horses to rub off their mane and upper tail hair.

In the long term, skin thickening and loss of hair pigmentation may occur.


It is important to try and prevent the symptoms of sweet itch by protecting your horse from the flies, by:

  • Removing standing water.
  • Stabling the horse from 4pm until 8am during summer months.
  • Using regular fly repellents.
  • Using rugs to provide some protection.
  • Fitting a very fine fly screen on stable door to protect your horse while it is stabled.

Despite taking precautions to protect your horse from the culicoides flies, it can often be extremely difficult to prevent the symptoms of Sweet Itch, and without treatment, the condition tends to worsen each year.

There is presently no known cure for Sweet Itch, but there is now available a natural treatment - Equinat Aromaitch, which effectively treats all of the symptoms of sweet itch, preventing further distress to your horse,

Aromaitch is an entirely natural aromatherapy cream, which contains a unique blend of 10 pure essential oils, including tea tree. It soothes the irritated skin, relieves the itching and repels flies. It also promotes rapid healing of any sores or open wounds, and encourages quick hair regrowth.

Equinat products are entirely natural equine treatments, manufactured by Aromesse, and Equinat Aromaitch is the latest addition to the range.

To see the full range and for further information on Aromaitch, visit

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