Proud Flesh Treatment in Horses

August 6, 2006 (published)

The most common reason wounds on horses do not heal correctly is because of a condition called proud flesh. Proud flesh is actually normal granulation tissue that has overgrown the wound edges. If you see a wound on a horse in which the tissue inside the laceration has grown out farther than the skin edge, that is proud flesh. A wound will not heal correctly with proud flesh because the skin will not cover it. Anything that irritates the wound can cause proud flesh so keep that in mind when you are choosing products to treat horse wounds. It has also been shown that bandages and casts can also contribute to proud flesh as they increase the oxygen gradient between tissue and wound surface and create a warm and moist environment.

However, a lot of this depends on the environment of the wound. If the horse can be kept in a clean bedded stall, then bandaging may be unnecessary. But if the horse is in a dirty environment, a bandage will keep the wound clean and prevent infection, which will prevent proud flesh and improve healing. So whether to bandage these lower leg wounds must be decided on a case by case basis by your vet. Treatment of proud flesh is best done by surgical removal. Although there are many products in the feed stores marketed for this purpose, these proud flesh removers are very irritating and decrease healing. Many of these powders and strong chemicals as well as caustic substances may remove the proud flesh but severely damage normal tissue as well and cause more problems in the future. Wounds treated with caustic chemicals generally heal with large scars and you have seen many of these break open later on and have to be treated again.

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