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Sunburn and Horses

Updated: May 4, 2021

What is an equine sunburn? Sunburn in horses is just like in people. It is a type of burn caused by too much exposure to the sun from harmful ultraviolet sun rays. This type of burn can create long lasting scars on your horse and possible infection if left untreated.


  • Redness

  • Bright Pink Skin

  • Dry/Cracked Skin

  • Peeling

  • Sudden Head Shyness

  • Blisters

Horses at Risk: The horses most at risk for sunburn is Pintos, Paints, Appaloosas, Cremellos, yearlings, foals and light pigmented horses. This is because the underlying unpigmented skin is vulnerable the UV rays.

Areas Affected: Usually sunburn in horses affects sensitive areas such as the nose, eyes, and withers.

Post Sun Treatments: Applying Desitin or aloe to affected areas every two hours to keeps it moisturized and prevents drying and cracking.

Recovery: Ensure shade is available and the stable is well ventilated especially during the hottest part of the day which is 9am-3pm.

Prevention: Applying sunscreen (Equishild, Sungard, Epi-Pet Sun Protector, or human sunscreen lotion) can help prevent a sunburn. In addition, using a fly mask with a nose piece can also help protect sensitive areas from the sun. Fly sheets are great too, however occasionally these are heavy and can increase sweating, Make sure horses have plenty of access to water.

*** If the sunburn is not resolving with treatment, please call a veterinarian. Most importantly in the heat, keep our horse well hydrated and offer adequate shade.

Written by Ashlynn Noble

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