Cellulitis: A Challenging Condition To Cure

Cellulitis is a sudden, painful skin infection that requires aggressive, immediate care. Most commonly affecting the hind legs, many horses recover readily, but complications are possible, and chronic flare-ups are a possibility.

Cellulitis occurs when bacteria penetrate the epidermis of the skin and multiplies in the subcutis, which is made up mainly of fatty and connective tissues. Primary cellulitis has no specific point of origin and exactly how it penetrates the skin is often unknown. Secondary cellulitis occurs when bacteria enter tissues through a known route, like a wound or surgical incision.

Cellulitis can be caused by a variety of bacteria and needs to be treated promptly. Left untreated, the infection can affect bone, tendon or synovial structures. Sepsis and laminitis can also occur.

Signs of cellulitis include:

  • Dramatic swelling that comes on rapidly and feels firm
  • Heat
  • Pain that tends to appear when the horse is asked to step forward rather than bear weight
  • Fever
  • Wetness: the swelling can progress rapidly to the point where fluid leaks from cracks in skin that is overstretched

A vet may take X-rays or do an ultrasound to rule out other possible issues like a joint infection or fracture. He or she may also culture the fluid weeping from the leg; this will help determine what bacteria is involved so that the proper antibiotic can be administered.

The primary treatment for cellulitis is intravenous antibiotics, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories to help with pain and swelling. Cold hosing or ice boots or bandaging can also help.

Horses with secondary cellulitis tend to recover more rapidly. Though some cases of cellulitis can be managed at home, severe cases may need to be referred to an equine hospital.

Horses that have had even one episode of cellulitis become susceptible to chronic cellulitis, specifically in the same limb, whether the skin was permanently damaged from the extreme swelling or because circulatory and lymphatics systems have been damaged to the point that they are unable to mount an immune response. Horses that have had cellulitis even once should be monitored carefully as even the tiniest wound may initiate a new round of cellulitis.

Tips to avoid cellulitis recurrence:

  • Turn out the horse as much as possible in dry condition
  • Use shampoo sparingly when bathing
  • Avoid sharing grooming tools and sterilize them regularly

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

The post Cellulitis: A Challenging Condition To Cure appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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