Equestrian Needs Ltd


There is no cure for sweet itch however there are a range of products available to help to reduce or alleviate the symptoms. It is difficult to assess the success of these treatments. Every horse responds differently and what suit's a friend's horse may not suit yours.

The number of midges is critical and what may appear to be improvement or deterioration may only be a reflection of the number of attacking midges. As this can change with the weather it is important to take the necessary steps to try to make you horse as comfortable as possible.


  • If you are going to choose a rug, ensure it has been designed for sweet itch. A standard fly rug will not protect against midge bite.
  • Sweet itch rugs can be very effective but consider the environment and the likelihood of the rug being ripped to shreds. You may need to deploy electric fencing to prevent rubbing on hedges and boundaries.
  • Choose your rug carefully and ensure it is a good fit to prevent rubbing as it will need to be worn 24 hours a day.
  • Rugs should be worn before the season commences, March to October.
  • Wash bug rugs regularly as they can quickly accumulate a layer of grease from the products and this can increase itchingFly masks can help to prevent biting around the ears, face and forelock but should be washed regularly as they meshed can become dirty hampering visibility.

Fly Sprays and Creams

  • Apply a fly spray. Those containing DEET or pyrethrins are considered more effective, however they are not long lasting and some horses can be sensitive to the sprays.
  • Oil based products can act as a barrier and there are a variety of solutions available.
  • Grease based applications can also be applied but can be messy.
  • Creams can help to relieve the symptoms and ease the discomfort but will not prevent further midge attacks.
  • Most solutions should be applied before the season starts for maximum protection and will need re-applied regularly following exercise or after rain.


  • There are various anti-itch supplements available which can support the horses' health and boost the immune system.
  • There is conflicting advice about garlic, some believe it helps and others believe it encourages the problem

Other Treatments

  • Steroids and antihistamines are available but do have side effects so discuss the options with your vet.
  • Immunotherapy which provides treatment of a disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing an immune response. Injections and capsules are available but can be expensive.

Last Updated: July 2012