If your horse picks up a small cut it can feel a bit overwhelming about what you should do, do you hose it, scrub it, call the vet, put a bandage on it or just apply some sort of cream or gel? Ask around your yard and everyone will probably give you a different opinion. You can read more about what to put on a cut or a wound here.
If you rummaged through a variety of horse first aid kits you’d often find a pot of sudocrem, and this is a popular product with horse owners. Many owners swear by sudocrem as the ultimate ‘go to’ for any cut or wound.
If you’re reading thinking hang on I thought that sudocrem was a nappy cream you’d be right, it is designed for babies bottoms, not for horses. So in this article I’ll be outlining what sudocrem is, the pros and cons of using on a cut or a wound, which cuts it might be suitable for and some better alternatives.
Sudocrem is sold as an antiseptic healing cream, and it has a water repellent base which forms a protective barrier (ideal for treating sore bottoms on babies). It contains hypoallergenic lanolin, to help provide emollient properties, zinc oxide, benzyl benzoate and benzyl alcohol is a weak local anaesthetic. Because it is used on babies we often think it is kind and gentle, and therefore suitable for our horses. However as an owner you need to know exactly what you are putting on the fragile skin of a cut on a horse, as leading skin and wound expert Professor Derek Knottenbelt puts it “If you wouldn’t put it in your own eye, then why would you put it in a wound”.
Here’s why we don’t recommend it on wounds
Sudocrem has a water repellent base consists of waxes and oils and it contains an emollient which promotes moisture in the wound. This ‘locks up’ anything against the wound surface, preventing anything getting in or out of the wound. On paper this sounds like a positive, you surely don’t want anything like dirt getting into a wound, but don’t forget wounds need to breathe and sudocrem unfortunately clogs up a wound.
This stops the exudate or debris coming out of a wound, and (depending on the wound depth) there can be quite a lot of this. This exodate is important as it is the bodies natural way of clearing out any infection and any ‘muck’ out of the wound. For this reason it can slow down or stop a wound from healing, and it is better to use a product that will help promote the right healing environment for wounds.
We always recommend that owners select products to apply to wounds in tubes rather than pots, to keep the product cleaner. There is no point in spending time cleaning a wound only to apply a dirty product to it. We recommend that owners use disposable gloves before dipping their hands into a pot of product, but let’s be honest this doesn’t always happen.
There’s plenty of dust and dirt on a yard, course other owners may ‘borrow’ products and not put the lid on properly. Whilst the problem of a grubby pot doesn’t just apply exclusively to sudocrem it is something to think about.
Hydrogel is a sterile gel, which keeps the wound moist and promotes the best healing environment. Hydrogels have been found to aid the removal of necrotic tissue, essential to help a wound heal well.
Flamazine is a silver based cream, and it is a prescription only medicine available from your vet. It is great for healing, and has efficacy against many wound pathogens, and some antibacterial properties. It is often used on mud fever, and it was originally used as on human burn patients.
So why not have a look through your horse first aid kit and see if you have a grubby old pot of sudocrem? Chances are you probably have, and it might be worth investing in a product that will help the wound heal up better.
If you’re unsure what you need in your Horse FIrst Aid Kit just click here for your free checklist.