Topical Gel for Bacterial Skin Infections Could Be 'Spot On'

Florida researchers reported that equine bacterial skin infections could be effectively treated with a topical "spot-on" gel instead of the traditional labor-intensive shampoos and long-term oral antibiotics.

Bacterial skin infections are common in clinical practice. They can cause itchiness, pain, hair loss, crusting, and scaling, often necessitating time off from work or riding to heal.

According to the study authors, long-term oral antibiotics for these infections can cause bone marrow suppression and colitis (inflammation of the large bowel). Shampoos are another option, but because their use can be time-consuming, owner compliance is poor.

Topical "spot-on" medications for bacterial infections are, therefore, desirable because a high concentration of medication can be applied directly to the infected area.

Since currently available spot-on medications are expensive and trap dirt, an alternative product that's well-tolerated by horses and efficacious would benefit affected animals.

Twenty horses with clinical and microscopic evidence of bacterial skin infections due to either staphylococcal or fungal infections were randomly divided into two groups. One group was treated with the spot-on medicated gel containing 0.4% stannous fluoride, while the second group was treated with a placebo product for 28 days. All owners and study investigators were blinded to the treatments.

Results revealed that none of the horses in the treatment group required additional therapy at the end of the 28 days, whereas four of the 10 horses in the placebo group required oral antibiotics to treat the persistent infections.

No adverse events were noted in any of the 20 horses, as reported by the owners.

Empire Pharmaceuticals Inc., the manufacturer of MedEquine Gel, funded this project.

The study, "Investigation on the clinical efficacy and tolerability of a 0.4% topical stannous fluoride preparation (MedEquine Gel) for the treatment of bacterial skin infections in horses: a prospective, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial," was published in the December 2007 edition of Veterinary Dermatology. Authors were Rosanna Marsella, DVM, Dipl. ACVD, and Lisa Akucewich, DVM.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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