As we were researching details of products submitted for our recent skin wound and infections trial, we came across a few that specifically claimed to treat both thrush/hoof infections and skin problems as well. We decided that if the products work, it could be save time, money and storage.
The common property of all of these products is a disinfecting effect. They don’t have a conditioning or moisturizing effect, and they don’t contribute to healing except to help prevent infections. Disinfectants (aka antiseptics) kill organisms on contact within minutes but usually have no long-term residual effect (iodine is an exception here).
Battle Zone. Dealing with equine wounds is a constant battle against infection, since a horse’s environment is never sanitary, even under the best of circumstances. A combination product needs to have a wide spectrum of antimicrobial activity to combat both the usual skin inhabitants and the various organisms in the environment.
The same is true of hoof infections, but the profile of typically found organisms is a bit different. The hoof, sole and frog have a much thicker layer of dead cells to protect them than the skin does. Their surfaces are much more resistant to superficial injury, so infections tend to occur only in the depths of deep punctures, in tissue clefts or following introduction of organisms through white-line damage.
Infections are infections, regardless of whether they are in the foot or on the skin. Therefore, antimicrobial ingredients should work equally well in both places as long as they stay in place well, don’t get deactivated (see cleaning box) and have a wide spectrum of activity. Antibiotics don’t work on fungi, while iodine-based disinfectants, parachlorometaxylenol and chlorhexidine do. Banixx is active against both fungi and bacteria.
We found that liquids penetrate into narrow cracks the best. The most effective protocol for hoof infections is soak, followed by with gauze or cotton soaked with the solution, packed into problem areas and left in place between soaks. Use a hoof boot to protect tender areas and prevent contact with manure, urine and dirt/organisms until the infected area can heal over.
Our Trial. We included products advertised as useful for both hoof and skin. We also added some broad-spectrum disinfectants that would have good activity against organisms involved in skin and hoof infections.
Two combination products had unique effects. Sore No-More The Sauce offers the pain relieving effects of Sore No-More combined with antiseptic iodine. Su-Per Caustic Powder combats proud flesh, can help strip through layers of heavy contamination and pus on neglected wounds, and assists with the removal of dead tissue and kills the organisms responsible for thrush.
Cell-culture research has created some paranoia about negative effects of disinfectants on healing. However, further research using differing concentrations and on real wounds has calmed those fears.
Even iodine, once widely believed to be harmful to healing tissue, is being looked at more closely in light of the most recent research that shows no negative effects when the proper dilution and form are used. Scientists are taking a closer look at iodine today because of the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Resistance is not a problem with iodine.
Always follow directions carefully. An added plus to these simple products is that sensitivity reactions are unlikely. Their low price means you can, and should, use them liberally. They can also be applied to dressings put on wounds for an added antimicrobial barrier.
For our trial, we used the protocol from the thrush trials (August, September 2009) and also tested these products on minor wounds (not through full-thickness skin) and surface infection problems, including rain rot and summer skin irritations, which are often a combination of reaction to insect bites and secondary skin infections.
Bottom Line. Our favorite in this all-purpose category is Banixx. It does what it claims to do and works well in all situations. It’s even safe to use as a flushing material for deep-seated infections. There are no known environmental effects, and it’s safe around dogs and cats. The cost is no higher than other combination products, but the results are clearly superior.
Our best buy is Triodine-7, a disinfectant based on three types of iodine. We noticed no irritation or indication that it caused any stinging, although individual animals may be sensitive to iodine. If your horse is sensitive to iodine, consider chlorhexidene instead.
Article by Veterinary Editor, Eleanor Kellon, VMD.