What are sarcoids?
Commonly occurring, non-malignant equine tumours, sarcoids can be found on horses, mules, donkeys and even zebras. Often found on the head, belly, groin and legs, sarcoids can have several different appearances and sometimes look like a thickened and bleeding area (ulceration) that may crust over as it heals.
There are 6 classifications of sarcoids with the most common being verrucous, which resemble a wart, or fibroblastic, which resembles proud flesh.
What do they look like?
Each of the classifications is based on the appearance of the sarcoid and according to PetMD, have the following characteristics:
- Nodular sarcoids are firm, raised, circular nodules that typically appear in the sheath/groin area and around the eyelids. They are typically 5-20 mm in diameter.
- Fibroplastic sarcoids are fleshy, proliferative and ulcerative, and are typically found around the groin, lower legs and eyelids.
- Verrucous sarcoids have a wart-like appearance and can occur anywhere along the face, body and groin area.
- Occult or flat sarcoids are thickened areas that are flat or circular, or may appear as small nodules that are 2-5 mm in diameter. These can be found on the neck, mouth, eyes, and the inside of the thighs and upper forelegs.
- Malevolent sarcoids show as multiple nodules and are locally invasive. They can occasionally infiltrate the local lymphatic system, appearing like cords under the skin.
- Mixed sarcoid lesions show as a mix of any of the above and are typical of a sarcoid that has been on the horse for a long time, or has experienced some sort of trauma.
How can they be treated?
Once a veterinarian has confirmed that your horse does in fact have sarcoids, and not another type of skin infection, the treatment plan can vary. From a wait and monitor approach, to topical ointments, freezing, injections and surgical removal, the right treatment will depend on the size, location and impact of the sarcoid.
Although sarcoids don’t tend to metastasize, removal doesn’t ensure they won’t return to the same spot. If you choose not to have them removed or use any of the other common treatment options, or your veterinarian deems it unnecessary, you will want to continue to monitor the condition to ensure it does not become inflamed, cause the horse any pain or experience any trauma.
Can Nature’s Aid help?
As with anything, early detection and prevention is the best course of action. Nature’s Aid for Pets skin gel can be applied to sarcoids to provide anti-inflammatory, analgesic and soothing properties. The gel may help keep the sarcoids from growing or slow down growth, and can help speed healing if they crack and bleed, as well as protect against infection.
Can they be prevented?
While there are currently no vaccines to prevent sarcoids, and therefore no commercial preventative measure available, there is evidence to suggest that bovine papilloma virus (BPV) is a causative factor.
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