Skin Infection (Boil) in Horses


A boil, the result of an infection in the skin, is similar to an abscess. It starts out as a small bump and grows over time to become a larger boil that may seep puss. Eventually, a boil will scab over.

Boils are very painful and can even cause temporary lameness in some horses. It is important to locate and treat boils as soon as possible to prevent the spread of infection.

Symptoms and Types

The signs for a boil are fairly easy to recognize and include:

  • Lesion(s) on the skin
  • A break in the skin
  • A small bump or papule
  • Edema (or swelling caused by trapped fluid)


An infection of the hair follicle or skin is the primary cause of a boil. However, bacteria such as Staphylococci or poor hygiene habits can also lead to the condition.


A boil is easily diagnosed by a veterinary professional or a person experienced with working with horses. The veterinarian will make a thorough examination of the horse’s coat to check for boils, breaks in the skin, other lesions, or wounds.

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