Sarcoids are benign, noncancerous growths of the skin. However, they’re ugly, and they can become a problem if they get large or are in an area where they’re irritated by something, such as a girth.
The likelihood of sarcoids developing on a horse is a blend of multiple factors, including a genetic predisposition, exposure to virus (bovine papillomavirus, which causes warts in cows) and possibly the horse’s overall immune status at the time.
Sarcoids generally appear before the age of four. They’re often confused with warts, especially when small, but are located anywhere on the body.
Warts tend to be confined to the muzzle. Sarcoids range in appearance from small and wartlike to large and fairly smooth to rough surfaced. They can even be flat. Sarcoids that resemble proud flesh, called fibroblastic sarcoids, have the highest rate of recurrence.
In about one-third of the cases, the sarcoids disappear on their own after a few months, just like common equine warts. In other horses, the sarcoids remain small for prolonged periods. In still others, they grow at varying rates and may appear in new locations as time goes on.
Treatment isn’t usually recommended unless the sarcoid is growing, has changed appearance or is located in an area where it’s a problem, such as along the girth. Even with the most successful treatments, there’s still a chance the sarcoid could recur in the same site or new lesions appear in different locations.
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