Effect of Water on Your Horse or Pony’s Skin

Jan 3, 2024

Do you see more skin irritation when the weather is wet?  Or if your horse is prone to sweating promoting wet conditions under saddle or under leg protection?

Studies show that when skin comes into contact with water the risk of irritation is increased.  They also show that as the temperature of water increases, irritation increases also!  Here are the reasons as to why:

  • Water exposure causes changes in the stratum corneum which is the uppermost layer of skin.  Water not only affects the structure of the skin, it also increases the hydration which allows a greater penetration of external irritants or allergens and providing a suitable environment for bacterial overgrowth [,].  In the case of horses it could be anything from irritants from the ground, and in the case of saddle pads, dust, sweat, dirt, detergent.
  • Water and temperature have a significant effect on the skin barrier. Hot temperature also damages the skin, as shown by increased erythema, which presents as a rash, redness, or inflammation.
  • Chronic skin diseases which typically appear are contact dermatitis (both irritative and allergic), atopic dermatitis and psoriasis [,,]. Long water exposure is related to disease worsening [], as immersing irritated hands in water increases blood flow and aggravates inflammation [] further.

So how can we help our horses and ponies?

  • Choose products that do not hold any water against your horse or pony’s skin.  Be mindful of the word “sweat wicking” as this often means that the fabric holds the water within its structures.
  • Ensure that any products that sit against your horse or pony’s skin are clean.  Avoid detergents to clean your products as these can also be irritating.  Simply wash your products in water regularly such as hosing.
  • Ensure that your horse’s skin is clean before putting any products against it, try using simple water or natural shampoos.
  • Try not to expose the skin via clipping – the hair acts as barrier to protect the delicate top layer of the skin from the external environment.
  • Dry the skin before riding, and if you cannot dry the skin, use products that help to allow the air to pass around the skin to assist in the drying effect.

How can HUSK Air Products help?  

  • HUSK breathable unique air technology allows air to pass between the layers of the boots and saddle pads that help to keep a dryer environment around the skin.
  • The fully porous fabrics do not hold any water, they allow the water to pass through and away from the skin.
  • HUSK Air Breathable Boots and Saddle pads are easily cleaned with hose

If you want to investigate HUSK products further here are the links below:

HUSK Breathable Air Boots: https://thehusk.co.uk/husk-boots/

HUSK Breathable Air Saddle Pads: https://thehusk.co.uk/husk-saddle-pads/

24. Firooz A., Aghazadeh N., Estarabadi A.R., Hejazi P. The effects of water exposure on biophysical properties of normal skin. Skin Res. Technol. 2014;21:131–136. doi: 10.1111/srt.12167. [PubMed] [CrossRef[]
25. Ogawa-Fuse C., Morisaki N., Shima K., Hotta M., Sugata K., Ichihashi T., Oguri M., Yoshida O., Fujimura T. Impact of water exposure on skin barrier permeability and ultrastructure. Contact Dermat. 2018;80:228–233. doi: 10.1111/cod.13174. [PubMed] [CrossRef[]
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41. Carøe T.K., Ebbehøj N.E., Bonde J.P.E., Flachs E.M., Agner T. Hand eczema and wet work: Dose-response relationship and effect of leaving the profession. Contact Dermat. 2018;78:341–347. doi: 10.1111/cod.12934. [PubMed] [CrossRef[]
42. Ramsing D.W., Agner T. Effect of water on experimentally irritated human skin. Br. J. Dermatol. 1997;136:364–367. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.1997.tb14945.x. [PubMed] [CrossRef[]

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