Horse Journal OnCall: What Products Will Promote Healthy Healing?

The wound on my horse is wide and deep.
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The wound on my horse is wide and deep.

My horse was bitten by a venomous snake (probably copperhead) two weeks ago and is under a vet’s care. It is clearly going to leave a scar on his front leg. The bite is an inch or two above his fetlock. Can scarring be minimized?

We love Curasorb calcium alginate dressings in the early stages of granulation.

We love Curasorb calcium alginate dressings in the early stages of granulation.

I read your earlier Horse Journal OnCall response about scarring, but this is different as there is no possibility of stitching as the venom ate a hole a little more than an inch in width and an inch in height and a depth of about 1/4" deep. We are now past the abscess stage. 

I really want to encourage healing, which I know must come from the inside, while reducing the presence of less flexible scar tissue.

Is there a product or process which will not interfere with granulation but keep things closer to normal skin? Maybe even with hair growth? Don't want much do I?

Contributing Veterinary Editor Grant Miller, DVM, responds:

 The principles of wound care apply here:

1) Keep it clean
2) Keep it moist
3) Keep it motionless.

The wound should be covered with a medicated pad. I love Curasorb calcium alginate dressings in the early stages of granulation and then Hydrogel or Xeroform dressings once the granulation bed is filled in and the skin is growing over. The Curasorb controls excessive moisture and infection in the early stages, and the hydrogel / xeroform supplies moisture and limits infection in the later stages.

Keeping the would clean and moist will minimize scarring - so correct dressing choice as well as daily fastidious wrapping and wound care/ management are paramount to a successful outcome and to minimize scarring.

Once the skin is finally completely covering the wound, then vitamin E oil can be applied to minimize scarring. However- keep in mind that a 1" by 1" section of skin is gone, which means that the hair follicles went with it. Therefore, some scarring will occur.

See also Rattlesnake Season is Here.