Greasy Heel


Causes of greasy heel

A bacteria like organism called Dermatophilis causes Greasy Heel. . It is often referred to as ‘mud fever’ where horses develop the condition when standing in muddy yards and paddocks during rainy weather.


Symptoms of greasy heel  
The affected skin of the coronet and pastern area becomes itchy and swollen, eventually developing into a moist grey-yellowish weeping surface. These discharges are often ‘greasy’ or sticky to touch, with hair matting and deep cracks developing in the dry, inflamed skin as the pasterns flex during exercise.

In acute cases where the skin is inflamed, cracked open, bleeding, or the horse is lame seek veterinary advice and treatment. Antibiotics and topical medications to control infection and inflammation may be necessary.

In severe cases, the lesions may extend up the cannon area, usually in the rear legs, and from one to all four legs may be affected. Some horses seem susceptible to a chronic recurring form that flares up from time to time. In severe cases, the dermatitis may cause acute lameness, particularly in paddocked horses in warm, wet weather.


Greasy heel is characterized by greasy, cracked or inflamed skin on the heels and rear of the pasterns
Many early or mild cases can be successfully treated by horse trainers or owners. For best results, the greasy hair and skin area must be thoroughly cleaned before applying topical ointments.

  • Restrain the horse
  • Clean off excess grease with a warm, moist cloth but dry thoroughly - remember moisture is your enemy!
  •  Where the lesions are sore and swollen, smear on a soothing cream such as  Flamazine, Derisal or Opiclox Ointment available from us. Repeat treatment for 5-7 days

Prevention of greasy heel  

In most cases, smearing a thin layer of a zinc-based skin emollient eg Flamazine onto the skin when horses are turned out during daylight hours will help to control infection.

Alternatively, in horses with white pasterns apply a thin coating of a sunscreen every 1 –2 days. This helps repel moisture, control skin infection and prevent sunburn, and is particularly useful for horses with a history of recurring greasy heel.