What is sweet itch?

Also known as summer itch or equine insect hypersensitivity, sweet itch is a common skin condition that affects horses and ponies. A medical condition, it’s caused by an allergic reaction to the bites of Culicoides midges, commonly referred to as “no-see-ums”, and the black fly Simulium. Whilst it can affect almost any horse or pony, it’s particularly common in some native breeds and is the most common allergic skin disease in the UK.

A delayed hypersensitivity to insect bites causes an over vigorous response by the horse’s immune system and results in the uncontrollable need to scratch, hence the name sweet itch. The symptoms of sweet itch can vary in severity and include intense itching, hair loss, skin irritation, and in bad cases, sometimes open sores.

How to treat sweet itch?

Fortunately, there are effective treatments available to manage and prevent this condition, such as Killitch®Killitch® is a veterinary approved and licensed product proven to prevent and treat sweet itch in horses and ponies. It contains the active ingredient Benzyl Benzoate in a soothing lotion, specially formulated for equine use. When used as a preventative measure in early spring before the symptoms become evident, Killitch® can help stop the condition from taking hold.

Killitch for Sweet Itch

Maintaining cleanliness is vital in managing sweet itch. All affected areas should be kept clean by shampooing and rinsing well at least once a week with a product such as Gallop® Medicated ShampooGallop® Medicated Shampoo is a high specification formula ideal for dry, flaky, itchy, scurfy and sensitive skin. The pH neutral formula contains natural oils that helps to soothes and calm irritated, sore, damaged skin whilst also softening and lifting scabs and dandruff.  After shampooing or heavy exercise, re-apply Killitch® to ensure adequate protection.

Gallop Medicated Shampoo

How to apply Killitch®

Applying Killitch® is a straightforward process, but it is essential to follow the instructions for optimal results. Begin by wearing gloves to protect your hands. Apply the lotion to all affected areas by rubbing it in gently with your fingers or a soft cloth. It is crucial to focus on the areas where the symptoms are most prominent, such as the mane, tail base, and along the back. During the initial stages of treatment, it is recommended to apply Killitch® twice daily. As the irritation lessens, you can reduce the frequency to once daily and eventually 3-4 times a week.

For horses known to suffer from sweet itch, applying Killitch® in the early spring, before the symptoms become evident, is highly recommended. By doing so, you can potentially prevent the condition from taking hold and spare your horse from the discomfort associated with sweet itch.

How can you prevent sweet itch?

The old adage prevention is better than cure is very true for sweet itch. A seasonal condition, the mosquitos and midges that cause sweet itch are active March to November. A fly spray such as FLYGARD ® Extra Strength spray or Gel applied to your horse or pony will help to prevent your horse from being bitten. An insecticidal spray such as FLYGARD ® Protector can also be applied to the stable or field shelter which will help to protect your horse’s environment from flying and biting insects. The water based insecticide formula containing Cypermethrin, which has a fast acting ‘knock-down’ effect and provides weeks of protection. Fly rugs and, where possible, avoiding turnout when biting insects are most prevalent (at dawn and dusk) also help to prevent horse’s being bitten.

Killitch Testimonial

“I use Killitch on Wally’s mane and the base of his tail or anywhere he gets itchy, it really is the only product that actually helped keep him from having a bout with Sweet Itch. I highly recommend Killitch. Thank you Carr & Day & Martin, and my horse thanks you too !”

Patricia D.



*Killitch currently only available in the UK