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Sudocrem and Cuts

If your horse picks up a small cut it can feel a bit overwhelming about what you should do. Do you hose it, scrub it, call the vet, put a bandage on it or just apply some sort of cream or gel? If you ask around your yard, it is likely that everyone would give you a different opinion. 

If you rummaged through a variety of horse first aid kits you’d often find a pot of Sudocrem, and this is a popular product with horse owners. Many owners swear by Sudocrem as the ultimate ‘go-to’ for any cut or wound.

If you’re reading thinking hang on I thought that Sudocrem was a nappy cream you’d be right. It is designed for babies' bottoms, not for horses. So in this article, I’ll be outlining what Sudocrem is, the pros and cons of using on a cut or a wound, which cuts it might be suitable for and some better alternatives.

Sudocrem is sold as an antiseptic healing cream, and it has a water repellent base which forms a protective barrier (ideal for treating sore bottoms on babies). It contains hypoallergenic lanolin, to help provide emollient properties, zinc oxide, benzyl benzoate, and benzyl alcohol is a weak local anesthetic. Because it is used on babies we often think it is kind and gentle, and therefore suitable for our horses. However, as an owner, you need to know exactly what you are putting on the fragile skin of a cut on a horse, as leading skin and wound expert Professor Derek Knottenbelt puts it “If you wouldn’t put it in your own eye, then why would you put it in a wound”.

Should you use Sudocrem on a wound?

Sudocrem is not the best product to use on wounds, and it is not a product that we recommend on our Horse First Aid Courses. You won’t find it on our Horse First Aid Checklist either.

Here’s why we don’t recommend it on wounds:

1. It ‘clogs’ the wound up

Sudocrem has a water repellent base consists of waxes and oils and it contains an emollient which promotes moisture in the wound. This  ‘locks up’ anything against the wound surface, preventing anything from getting in or out of the wound. On paper this sounds like a positive, you surely don’t want anything like dirt getting into a wound, but don’t forget wounds need to breathe and Sudocrem, unfortunately, clogs up a wound.

2. It doesn’t promote the best healing environment

This stops the exudate or debris coming out of a wound, and (depending on the wound depth) there can be quite a lot of this. This exudate is important as it is the body's natural way of clearing out any infection and any ‘muck’ out of the wound. For this reason, it can slow down or stop a wound from healing, and it is better to use a product that will help promote the right healing environment for wounds.

3. The pot gets grubby

We always recommend that owners select products to apply to wounds in tubes rather than pots, to keep the product cleaner. There is no point in spending time cleaning a wound only to apply a dirty product to it. We recommend that owners use disposable gloves before dipping their hands into a pot of product, but let’s be honest this doesn’t always happen.

There’s plenty of dust and dirt on a yard, course other horse owners may ‘borrow’ products and not put the lid on properly. Whilst the problem of a grubby pot doesn’t just apply exclusively to Sudocrem it is something to think about.

So what should you apply to a wound?

Hydrogel

Hydrogel is a sterile gel, which keeps the wound moist and promotes the best healing environment. Hydrogels have been found to aid the removal of necrotic tissue, essential to help a wound heal well.

Flamazine

Flamazine is a silver-based cream, and it is a prescription only medicine available from your vet. It is great for healing, and has efficacy against many wound pathogens, and some antibacterial properties. It is often used on mud fever, and it was originally used as on human burn patients.

Hopefully, this provides some guidance as to what cream may be best to treat a wound with next time it happens. Remember, if you are in any doubt about any cut or injury on your horse you must seek guidance from your vet.

About the author

Nicola Kinnard-Comedie owns and runs NKC Equestrian Training, a training company providing Horse First Aid Courses across the UK (and online) together with qualified vets. These workshops are designed for horse owners to update their knowledge on preventative health care, wounds, colic, and infectious diseases. Just like with human first aid recommendations change over the years, and these courses are the perfect opportunity to ask the vet lots of questions and enjoy a relaxed day of training. 

If you would like to know more about what to have in your Horse First Aid Kit, how wounds heal and to update your horse first aid knowledge you can register for more details about our online Horse First Aid Courses using the link below:

http://eepurl.com/dI70vb