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Can We Treat Itch? Yes! What's the Secret?

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Queensland Itch, or sweet itch, also known as summer eczema or pruritus, is a common condition in horses that causes severe itching and discomfort. It’s typically caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva of biting insects, such as midges. While there’s no definitive 'cure' for sweet itch, certain dietary supplements can help manage the symptoms. Horses at my place that had Itch don't get symptoms any more. But only because we treat them. If we stopped, they would scratch and get the lesions again. What's the secret? You can't wait until symptoms arise to start treating Itch. You need to start now. The Power of 3 Ingredients - Zinc, Flaxseed and Spirulina in Managing Itch

Flaxseed: A Natural Anti-Inflammatory

Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the allergic response in horses suffering from Itch. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Science found that horses fed with flaxseed showed a significant reduction in skin inflammation.

Spirulina: A Superfood for Skin Health

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that’s packed with nutrients. It’s high in antioxidants and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that spirulina can help modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. In one study, horses with sweet itch were given a combination of spirulina and flaxseed meal. The results showed a significant improvement in skin health and a reduction in itching. Research suggests feeding horses with Itch a combination of ground flax and spirulina for optimal results. We don't sell spirulina yet, but we will list it if you want. Let us know.


Zinc supplementation can play a significant role in managing Itch. Zinc is an essential trace element that’s important to the functioning of your immune system and metabolism. It has anti-inflammatory properties and increases the resurfacing of a skin wound with new epithelium. Research indicates that zinc is a useful treatment option for Itch because it inhibits mast cell degranulation, reducing the secretion of histamine which can contribute to Itch. Most topical Itch treatments contain zinc. A 2014 review found that when zinc sulfate was added to topical creams, it showed a statistically significant improvement over the cream without zinc sulfate for chronic eczema. The researchers also indicated that with its strong antibacterial and antioxidant action, topical zinc is used in treating atopic dermatitis. A 2016 study concluded that zinc deficiency and atopic dermatitis share many features but felt that further studies were needed to determine a possible cause-and-effect relationship. A 2013 study using zinc oxide impregnated textiles demonstrated that people with atopic dermatitis who used the textiles showed significant improvement in the disease severity, itchiness, and subjective sleep than those not using the textiles. While zinc, flaxseed and spirulina can’t cure Itch, they certainly help manage the symptoms. These natural supplements offer a safe and effective way to support skin health and reduce discomfort in horses with this condition. Feeding these supplements is preferable to repeated doses of corticosteroids, which can eventually cause blindness, amongst other serious side-effects. Remember: things that take months or years to manifest (like a zinc deficiency) aren't fixed overnight. If someone offers you a solution that is miraculous, there's going to be another cost.

Your Choice. All Sound Advice Trace Mixes Contain Optimal Zinc But wait, there's more! Addressing a zinc deficiency will help with other skin problems, hoof quality, wound healing, metabolic dysfunction, parasite management, and other conditions relating to immune function.

Prevention also helps. Covering your horse with a fly sheet, using fly masks and applying repellents in the evening will also assist in managing Itch. Neem oil is a natural treatment for biting insects.


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