5 Must Haves to beat Sweet Itch in 2020

5 Must Haves To Beat Sweet Itch in 2020

At this time of year many horse owners will be looking for the best products to help them beat or manage the upsetting condition of Sweet Itch. This condition, that affects many horses and ponies, is caused by an allergic reaction, most likely to the bite of the Culicoides midge. These little blighters are most active in February/March and then again in September/October.

There are a great range of products available to help you manage this condition. What you need to do is build up layers of protection from the inside out. Whilst horse owners have been using fly repellents for a number of years, this alone isn’t enough to keep the midges off of your horse.  It takes an entire system to protect a horse with Sweet Itch. Read on to find out more…

Get a Sweet Itch rug

You may be wondering why you need a Sweet Itch rug and why you simply can’t just use an ordinary fly rug. Well. A Sweet Itch rug is specially designed to protect your horse against biting insects. For this to happen it needs to cover the whole body including the elbow and sheath.

Busse Strong Eczema Combo Fly Rug

Last year some ground-breaking research caught, pretty much, the whole equestrian market's attention about how to reduce the number of flies landing on a horse. Researchers filmed horse flies as they tried to bite zebras and horses at a farm in North Somerset, England. Stripes did not stop flies from a distance as they circled horses and zebras at a similar rate. However, the flies were 25% less likely to land on zebras as they were dazzled and confused by the array of black and white stripes. This research has been applied to Sweet Itch rugs and they now come in a zebra print.

QHP Eczema Combo Fly Rug for horses with Sweet Itch

Shop all Sweet Itch Rugs here

Use fly repellent

When it comes to fly repellents, there are a huge number of different types, brands and applications available. A traditional spray or cream application is always a good option. Look for products with pyrethroid or permethrin-based ingredients as these are often the most effective. 

Z-Itch for horses

DEET is effective but can cause soreness in some horses. Shop our range of fly repellents that contain Deet here.

Spray his coat with the fly repellent before you put it on. Then spray the rug as well.

Shop all Fly Repellents here

Use a dedicated shampoo

An anti-itch shampoos can be effective to help reduce itching. Look out for key ingredients that soothe like oatmeal and lavender. Another option to offer short term relief is bathing with cold water to cool the affected areas.

Barrier Anti-Itch Soothing Shampoo for horses

Get a topical solution

As with fly repellents, there are many lotions and potions on the market. Using one of these will add another layer of protection. Our favourite is Nettex Summer Freedom Salve Complete. Not only does it have soothing and repellent properties it also acts as a barrier that midges aren’t able to bite through.

Nettex Summer Freedom Salve Complete

Feed a supplement

Did you know that in addition to sprays, you can protect your horse from the inside out with a supplement!?  You may ask how a supplement helps keeps bugs away from your horse. Have you heard that saying, “you are what you eat?” Supplements aimed at fly protection contain ingredients that add another layer of protection to your horse against bugs.


Shop all Supplements for Fly Control here

Shop All Sweet Itch Products



Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.


  • sally Mitchell posted on April 22 2020 at 10:04 PM

    The midges that cause sweet itch come out at dawn and dusk. If horses are kept in until 10 am and brought back in by about 3pm you will avoid the suffering they go through. Once the itch has started it will take some time for the reaction to calm down but persist with this regime and in time it will settle.

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