Supporting the Skin in Summer
Skin function, arguably, can be subjected to additional stress during the summer months. Not only is there likely to be increased activity – resulting in required rapid responses to heat loss and conservation, but the rise of potential antagonists such as biting insects, physical damage and allergens such as mycotoxins can impact on skin physiology and function.
Feeding can certainly affect those impacts. We are increasingly aware of “heart healthy” diets, supplements for muscle development, the importance of optimising the microbiome, mainly from human nutrition. But the same rules apply to horses, and there are steps we can take to maintain skin health, from macro- to micro- nutrition. General good nutrition, a forage based diet with quality protein and minerals will help support healthy skin, but there are other steps to be taken.
Feeding dietary sources of omega-3, 6 & 9 fatty acids support a range of processes. Physically, they are components of cell membranes, the vascular and neural systems, but also are the building blocks of prostaglandins that are integral to the inflammatory/repair cycles. Additionally, they are involved in the regulation of neurotransmission, which can support pain relief. Furthermore, omega-3 is involved in the production of sebum, the lubricant that protects the external face of the skin, and the hair follicles. Other components secreted in the sebum can include terpenoids. These are the essential oils of certain plants and they have been shown to discourage ectoparasites and biting insects. There is also some information that shows turmeric terpenoids can support the natural antifungal properties of sebum.