If you want to take proper care of your horse, you should also know a thing or two about the skin. In this article you will learn about the pH-value of the horse's skin and whether or not you can use human care products for on the horse (and what to avoid). Are you still using baby powder? Think again..
The function of the skin
The skin is the largest organ in a horse, and it does pretty much the same as people’s. It regulates temperature, provides a barrier and also ensures the sense of touch. It’s important to note that horse skin is thinner than human skin, which makes it more sensitive.
The horse skin has an average pH of 6.3, thus slightly acidic. If a horse is sweating heavily, the pH-value can increase up to 9, which promotes an environment where harmful bacteria and fungus can grow. Because of this, it is very important to try to bring the pH back to normal as fast and as close to neutral as possible. The alkaline environment is also the reason why the horses sweat foams up more than human sweat.
The pH-value is the reason why you should be aware of what kind of care product you are using on your horse.
Most soaps and some surfactants are highly alkaline, having a pH-value of 9-12. On the other hand, most human care products list a pH-value of 5.5, slightly below the pH of a horse. If you use too many out-of-range-skin care products on your horse, the skin might start to malfunction, as it cannot get back to its natural state.
Ironically, we are facing the exact consequences we are trying to avoid by keeping the horse “clean.“ The coat gets dull, the skin is unhealthy and fungi, as well as bacteria, are starting to thrive.
Simply put, the more toxins we use, the more toxins are absorbed into the horse’s system, hence weakening the horses immune system. In addition to the liver, the skin is greatly responsible for the release of toxins from the body.
Horses can get different skin diseases. Non-contagious skin diseases are nettle rash or the sweet itch. Infectious skin diseases are caused by viruses (equine sarcoid), bacteria (scabies, mallenders), molds and parasites (mites and lice).
Be especially careful if your horse has an existing metabolic disease like ECS (Cushing), Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) or PSSM). It is all the more important to use natural grooming products on sensitive horses.
Do you have any secret recipes for healthy skin? Leave us a comment!
Til' next week, Nicole