Skin remedies


On the introductory skin page we mentioned that there will be situations where it will be impossible to determine the exact causative agent for the problem at hand. Here, we will list some of the items in the medicine chest and some hints for their use. One needs to remember that in some situations it is against the law to use drugs in a manner different from and for a species different from what is specified on the label.

Bag balm® (Udder balm):

Great for rubbing into skin of udder and teat; use for those situations where the skin needs to be kept soft and pliable. Do not use when you want the injury to be kept dry. Is a mild antiseptic, but do not use in the presence of pus or oozing fluids. Will sometimes help to relieve itching from bites. Can use as a rub for stiff joints (benefit may be more from the rubbing).

Benzocaine topical spray:

Topical pain killer to spray on wound or bite to keep animal from chewing on itself. May be getting hard to find. Can use one of the products such as Anbesol®, designed for gum or dental treatment in people.

Betadine (Povidone Iodine Solution):

A tremendously useful mild iodine and soap preparation (surgical scrub) that can be used in cleaning wounds and for the treatment of a multitude of skin ailments where regular iodine is just too strong for frequent use. Great for those mysterious little sores that appear on udders. Can be used safely on serious injuries.

Blood stopper:

Effective in stopping minor bleeding in emergency situations. Always have handy when you trim feet. Frequently, kids will knock off the buds a few days after dehorning and this can cause profuse bleeding. It some situations such as this it is helpful to put the powder on a bandage which is then used to apply pressure to the bleeding area. Sometimes, you will have to hold the bandage in place for quite a long time. This product also contains an ingredient which helps prevent screwworm and maggot infestation of the injured area.

Cattle dust:

Useful for external parasites such as lice, flies, etc. Goats are not as much bothered by flies as much as most animals. Helpful for those mysterious summer-time bald spots that sometimes happens to does who are heavy milkers or under stress.

Eye ointment:

Terramycin ophthalmic ointment is the one most available. You always need to have this on hand for eye injuries and infections. Whenever there is redness of the eye, discharge, bruising, cloudiness or infection, ointment should be applied (inside the lower lid). Whenever there is clouding of the eye, ointment should be applied, at least until the exact cause has been determined. In most instances this will prove to be some sort of injury or foreign body, which will have to be located and removed before improvement will be noted. If the cloudiness does not disappear in two days, then you should again examine the eye (especially behind the third eyelid) carefully for stickers or other objects that are scratching the surface, consider one of the serious systemic diseases that can cause cloudiness or have your veterinarian check for cataracts.

Eye ointments can be used very effectively outside the eye because of the safety factor. For example, a small injury or infection near the eye can be treated with eye ointment without having to worry about getting some strong preparation (such as iodine) into the eye. This would also be the case with the prepuce, the vulva, anus and other sensitive areas.

Since the tubes are very small, it is wise to have two or three on hand (preferably refrigerated).

Fungisan® (or some other brand of liquid fungus treatment):

Many of these preparations can be found in the dog section of supply catalogues. Most of these are quite safe if used according to label instructions. Many skin ailments, not just ringworm, are fungal in nature. These are typified by loss of hair with or without white crusty covering. If there are no ectoparasites found in a skin scraping, one should consider a fungal infection.

Fungus ointments:

Sooner or later you will have a case of ringworm. This should always be considered a serious problem and treated immediately and properly. For ringworm, use one of the standard people fungus remedies. An effective approach is to alternate daily treatments of iodine and fungus ointment. Generally, the ointments are more effective than the liquids and a preferred for the more serious problems.

Hemorrhoid ointment:

Do goats really get hemorrhoids? Probably not. But does frequently develop swollen and/or injured vulvar tissues before, during and after delivery. Remedies sold for the purpose of "shrinking" hemorrhoids in people do wonders to reduce swelling in this delicate area, sometimes within a few hours. Many contain anaesthetic ingredients which will also help relieve discomfort.


Good old extra strength 7% tincture of iodine will be the most used item in your medicine chest. It is effective against many bacterial and fungal ailments. It is probably much cheaper to purchase it from your local feed/supply store because many shippers are charging high fees for shipping "hazardous materials." It should always be applied to the navel of all newborns. Many sources are now recommending that lanced abscesses be flushed with iodine rather than hydrogen peroxide. Iodine will be effective against most fungal disorders. Any cut, laceration, abrasion should be doctored with iodine until the wound is sealed. When banding is used as a method of castration, iodine should be applied to the area that becomes raw every couple of days. Iodine can be applied daily to most foot problems.

Do not use iodine on delicate tissues, mucous membranes, in or near eyes. Should iodine get into the eye, vigorous flushing with water will be necessary. Even with this precaution, there is a good chance of permanent blindness. Help from your vet may be in order.

Some animals, especially the young, will show redness with or without an "ashy" border because of overuse of or sensitivity to iodine. This problem can usually be reversed with daily applications of udder balm (and, of course, cessation of iodine). Be careful in applying iodine to only put it where it is needed.


A foot treatment intended for horses, that is, animals not used for food production. It is effective against foot rot and for ailments of the skin on or about the feet that are caused by the same organisms which cause foot rot. You have to remember that no foot treatment is going to be beneficial until the affected hoof material and the exudate that is formed by the disease are removed. This product is highly toxic and should be used with utmost care.

Nitrofurazone Dressing

This is another product not recommended for use on animals intended for food or milk production. It is highly effective on wounds which have become infected and resist healing, when no other product seems to be making any progress. It should always be used as a choice of last resort. Where the location permits, the wound should be covered by a bandage, which is changed daily. Injuries to the birth canal which occur during a difficult delivery respond well to this product. (Any necrotic [dead, brown] tissue should be scraped away first.)

Nolvasan® (Uterine) Suspension

This is the trade name for chlorhexidine hydrochloride. Although sold as a treatment for post delivery prevention and treatment for the uterus, it is a good antibacterial product for injuries of delicate areas such as the vulva and anus.

NTZ Puffer

Although fairly expensive, this is one of the handiest products to have handy in the barn. It was originally used as a treatment for pinkeye in cattle. Now use is federally prohibited in "food producing animals" in that it has been shown to be carcinogenic. It is excellent for dusting horn buds that become injured after dehorning. Being a powder it helps to reduce bleeding. It can be used for eye infections that do not respond to milder ointments. It is a good topical antibacterial agent wherever a liquid preparation such as iodine is not appropriate.


This wonderful product is great for cleaning ears, especially all the junk that gets in the ears of dogs. One of the effective characteristics is that of being a drying agent. This is very helpful when you need a product that is drying to the skin. If there is an undiagnosed minor skin ailment that resists all sorts of remedies, this is a very safe product that can be used as a wash.

Pen G

Some have found it helpful to apply a small amount of penicillin directly to an infection on the skin.

Screwworm preparations (Lindane)

Lindane is a highly dangerous product, the use of which is prohibited in most situations. On the other hand, there is nothing more disgusting than to come across an animal that has been victimized by thousands of squirming little maggots. Lindane preparations should be kept on hand for these emergencies. Usually, only one small application is needed and can be followed with iodine. If there is a large or deep injury during fly season, it may be a good idea to use a small amount as a preventative measure.

Triple antibiotic ointment

This is a very mild preparation. It can be safely used in nearly all situations, except in the eyes. There are three problems with its use: (1) Some infections should not be kept moist, (2) as with any ointment, it seems to attract dust and dirt to the wound, and (3) it is not very strong and may give the user a false sense of security. It probably should not be used in the presence of pus or other discharges.


Many skin ailments will cause terrible drying and cracking. To soften these so that the scabs or crusts can be removed and healing begin, a product such as petroleum jelly will be needed. Just make sure that you are not covering up an infection which needs exposure to the air in order to be treated.


The biggest advantage of Vetrap® or other similar products is that it doesn’t stick to the hair. It can be used for minor strains and sprains; it can hold splints in place; it can be used rather creatively to hold all sorts of bandages in place. It will do a fairly good job of keeping dirt out of a wound. The biggest danger is that it will be left on too long and do a whole lot more harm than good. The bandage always needs to be removed and the wound cleaned on a daily basis. It is so easy for necrosis to set in underneath any wrapping.


Although not a skin remedy, it can be applied around the nose or on the chest as a respiratory treatment as in people. Vigorous rubbing of the chest and ribcage are always helpful in cases of pneumonia. We have also found a very interesting use for Vicks®: When a animal experiences severe choke, either from milk, grain, or medication, they will frequently go into paroxysmal gaspiong for breath with an extreme amount of foam coming out of the mouth. A dab of Vicks® placed on the back of the tongue has always brought quick relief and probably saved a few lives.