Messy, smelly and downright gross, the drawing salve called ichthammol may not be your first choice for treating your horse, but you can't beat its versatility and affordability. The sticky ointment, a derivative of coal tar, reduces inflammation, draws out infection, kills germs and soothes pain.
Here are 10 uses for ichthammol:
1. Pack it around and over draining hoof punctures to draw out pus.
2. Use it to coax "gravels" (subsolar abscesses) to burst at the coronary band and then speed healing.
3. Slather it on a case of scratches, and cover the pastern with a sock or shipping boot. Within a day, the scabs come off easily and painlessly. For really crusty cases, put plastic wrap over the ichthammol to hold the heat.
4. Cover a rainrot-riddled back and rump with ichthammol to soften the scabs and kill bacterial agent. A soapy bath a few days later removes the ichthammol and loosened crusts.
5. Clear up "saddle acne" overnight with a spot of ichthammol on each "pimple."
6. Coat minor cuts and abrasions immediately to minimize pain and protect from infection.
7. Rub it on the muzzle to take the sting out of sunburn on a light-skinned nose. But don't expect it to prevent a reoccurrence; ichthammol is not a sunscreen.
8. Ease the painful effects of photosensitivity with a coating on scabs and raw skin. Plastic wrap and bandages over the ichthammol accelerate the benefits to affected lower legs.
9. Work a teaspoon or so of greasy ichthammol onto the dock of the tail to repel ticks for as long as two weeks.
10. Relieve the maddening itch of insect bits with ichthammol. The persistent goo wards off further feasts as well, particularly along the crest of the back and on the middle line of the belly.