By Tonya Ouellette
Ok, this has been an ongoing dilemma for us. To treat, or not to treat? When we first purchased Kojack ( seven years ago ) he had a small area the size of a golf ball next to his nostril on the left side that never would grow hair. Over the next couple of years he developed several types of skin deformities, some were small clusters, others were small nodules, and then there was simply the area that had no hair.
Kojack has recently developed two new nodules which are rubbing and interfering with haltering and bridleing so we have now chose to treat them. This was a hard decision for us. I should mention that this gelding is 21 years old. After speaking with several vets and doing online research we chose Xxtera over the various treatments as it seemed to be the least evasive and harmful to the horse.
What is a sarcoid? Well this is a tumor of the skin which can be found on horses, donkeys, mules, presumably caused by bovine papilloma virus infection, characterized by thickening and ulceration of the skin. This is the most common type of tumor found in horses. Sarcoids can occur at any age, they can be single or multiple and you will find them most frequently on the head, limbs, and abdomen. You can also see them on sites of trauma and healed wounds.
Their appearance can vary from a small growth that has a warty appearance, sometimes a cauliflower texture – I’ve seen this one inside the ears – some are firm, others can be moved freely, and we can see some that form nodules.( In my case, we have all of the above in one area.) There are six actual types of sarcoids:Occult – these appear as gray hairless areas and are usually flat. These are the ones people usually think are old scars. Most are round, but any shape can be seen. These are the ones that are found on the face, behind and under the elbow, inside the thigh and even in the groin areas. Nodular: can be a single, marble-like tumor or multiple tumors under the skin. The skin may move over the nodule or may be attached to it. They are often seen in the thigh, groin, armpit, and eyelid areas. These are the ones you want to watch as they can form ulcerations. Verrucose: are the ones that look warty and can have some red ulceration on the surface. These are frequently found on the face, groin, inside the thigh, sheath and inside the elbow area. Fibroblastic: are common in any of the thin skinned areas. These are flat based, and usually bleed when bumped. We usually find this type after a trauma to that area. Malevolent: this is the worst of the sacrcoids. These spread expansively through the skin with cords of attachment, frequently form nodules and ulcerate. These are primarily found around the elbow and face. Mixed: are any of the above, appearing on the head, under the elbow, in the groin area, and can also appear anywhere on the body.
So now we have a basic knowledge of what it is, what can we do to treat it?
There are many methods for treating sarcoids, some of which include surgical excision, cryotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy, laser therapy, hyperthermia, topical chemotherapy, and intrtumoral chemotherapy. Treatments may have to be repeated. From discussing with the vets and doing research online surgical excision does not sound like a viable option for us due to the fact we are dealing with such a large area, and you have a fair chance of reoccurrence – to include the tumors coming back and spreading to a larger area
There are many methods for treating sarcoids, some of which include surgical excision, cryotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy, laser therapy, hyperthermia, topical chemotherapy, and intrtumoral chemotherapy. Treatments may have to be repeated. From discussing with the vets and doing research online surgical excision does not sound like a viable option for us due to the fact we are dealing with such a large area, and you have a fair chance of reoccurrence – to include the tumors coming back and spreading to a larger area. The hardest part in making a decision such as this is that there is no consisistency with the effective treatments. Each tumor responds to each treatment differently. Freezing the tumors (cryotherapy) has to be repeated several times and can come back with aggressive new regrowth. It was our personal decision to try Xxterra. This is a product that is an herbal formulation of bloodroot powder and zinc chloride. It is suppose to alter the antidenicity of the sarcoid to stimulate the immune system. This product was first used on a resident horse at the CSU teaching hospital in Fort Collins, where a large sarcoid on the front leg had been removed several times and returned. After the treatment with Xxterra the leg healed and no further reoccurrence.
This is something that is either going to work right from the beginning or it’s not going to do anything. If you find after the initial application, blistering, weeping, etc. You’re going to see positive results while the skin takes it time to fight the growths and reheal. If you find the day after treatment NO CHANGE in the skin, there is no point in continuing further. In OUR case, the day after the initial application his skin was weeping, blistered, and two of the nodules were scabbed and looking as if they were going to come off. Literally over night there was new hair growth, I was sure I was imagining the hair growth and had to call one of my equine friends who knows the horse well, to come and look at it to confirm what I saw, and she was in the same page with me. At the time of writing this, I am 3 days into treatment, and have decided to take pictures from here on out of the healing process and when you look at this first set of photos; you can SEE the new hair growth.
Please note that when I checked his face this morning, it looked awful, the entire area was blistered, the skin was weeping, and I was concerned about infection, so I lightly sprayed the area with cold water and applied Furacin, these pictures were taken in the evening after the area dried, and look nothing like they did initially. If you chose to try this product, be prepared that things are going to look nasty before they get better. I wanted to share our story with you in hopes that it will help another sarcoid victim.
Please check http://ouellette-farms.com/main/page_news_gallery_news_item.html for pictures and an update on how his healing is progressing.