Horses are predisposed to 'proud flesh'. It occurs when the body is making a big effort to repair itself and lays down too much healing tissue, but then forgets to finish the process. This results in a raised lump of pink healing tissue, known as hypergranulation tissue, or 'proud flesh'. It can be frustrating as it can prolong the healing time and prevent the horse from returning to work.

A new sterile gel, that contains kentanserin, is available from vets and this helps prevent proud flesh from forming. Some cases will develop proud flesh regardless of what cream or potion you use, especially if it is complicated by damage to the bone or a tendon, or if positioned over a moving joint. 

Dependent on the amount of damage, once the skin has regrown, hair cells will develop over time, which is essentially the finishing touches of wound healing. But sometimes the hairs may turn white or be darker than previously.

Tips to avoid and treat proud flesh

  • Only bandage for as long as required - ask your vet for advice on this.
  • If the wound is near a joint, you need to minimise the horse's movement interfering with wound healing. This could be through box rest or a bandage or cast.
  • Do not pick the scab.
  • Do not irritate the wound by treating it with an aggressive wound cream.
  • Keep the wound clean by gentle cleaning with fresh water, especially before a scab is formed.
  • Do not scrub the wound with an antiseptic - this will kill the cells that are trying to heal, as well as any bacteria.
  • Be patient - some wounds take months to heal and your vet will guide you.

The information in this article reflects the opinion of the author and has been written independently. Supported by Elanco Animal Health, manufacturer of Vulketan.

To read the full article on wound management, see the May issue of Horse magazine.