Queensland or Sweet Itch - McDowell's Herbal Treatments

Queensland Itch is known by many names depending on where you live: Sweet Itch, Summer Eczema or Midges.

stock scratchinghorse SMLL

What is Queensland Itch?

Sweet-itch is an allergic reaction to the saliva of the midge. These creatures are very tiny flying insects that burrow their heads entirely under the skin in order to suck on the blood of their victim.  Some horses are allergic to the saliva of the midge and it causes an histamine reaction resulting in swelling and intense itchiness.

Midges breed in wet marshes and in the decaying vegetable matter along rivers and lakes. The horse may become restless and uneasy when the midges bite as they normally bite in swarms. The midges bite along the dorsal region of the horse, forehead, withers, rump and base of tail.

However it is only a proportion of horses that develop an allergic sensitivity to to the bites. This reaction starts as small itchy nodules that the horse will rub and bite at until hair is lost and skin becomes reddened and scaly and crusts form.

Start from the Inside

The treatment for Queensland Itch includes herbs to strengthen the nervous system as well as the immune system, liver and blood quality.

Feeding a balanced natural diet will help create a healthy horse with a strong immune system that will not predispose it to an overly reactive response to any insect attack. Include fresh herbs in the diet such as Nettle and Dandelion to boost blood circulation and quality, I particularly recommend Rosehips for boosting the immune system when treating Queensland Itch.

Our Aller-GG tonic contains herbs extracted in Apple Cider Vinegar that have traditionally been used to nourish and settle the immune system, which may help to reduce itchiness, dry/red skin and oversensitivity. Studies done on the herbal extracts of Euphorbia and Chamomile in recent years have supported the traditional use of these herbs in practice demonstrating significant anti-anaphylaxis action. A follow-through program for 6 to 12 weeks after symptoms have eased and for 6 weeks prior to the next season is advised.

Infect-A-Clear contains herbs that have been traditionally used to stimulate the horse’s own natural elimination which may help to clear these naturally occurring metabolites thereby improving the immune system's response. Robust immune systems routinely eliminate infective and metabolic waste as part of a healthy system. A system that is overloaded with inflammation, infection or metabolic waste has a much harder time recovering.

The internal tonics in the program for Queensland Itch is mixed into water and then into feed. This not only makes it easier to treat but it addresses the real problem which is actually a problem of the blood quality and immune system and not an external infection.

Rosehip tea made with granules can also be useful. Dose rate is 2 dessert spoons made into a tea with 1 litre of boiling water and given with feed.

Herbal insect repellent

Midge-away has been developed in response to the increasing demand to have insect repellents that are 100% chemical free. This product can be used pre and post ride to deter annoying flying insects. Can also be used as an environment spray in the stable area. 


Click here to read: Shikara recovers from Queensland Itch

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McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

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