By: Dr. Lydia Gray
What is it?
Aural Plaques are whitish, flaky lesions on the inside of the ear. They are thought to be the body's chronic, inflammatory response to a papilloma viral infection (similar to warts) spread by biting insects. Aural Plaques can be a purely cosmetic problem or cause severe ear sensitivity. However, it is not exactly known what aspect of this condition specifically makes the ears sensitive to grooming, haltering, bridling and other common handling procedures.
What can be done about it?
Generally veterinarians recommend no treatment for Aural Plaques since repeated handling of the ears seems to inflame the area and sensitize the horse. Despite this, some owners have reported success with various ointments, especially those containing steroids or other anti-inflammatory agents. Scrubbing or scraping should be avoided, however. A fly mask with ears is the best protection against new fly bites or irritation from flies. Horses that have become "ear shy" due to Aural Plaques may need specific training to condition them to accept head and ear handling.
What else do I need to know?
A study has recently been completed on a new ointment that appears to resolve the plaques inside the ear. Unfortunately, the treatment is expensive and painful but for horses and owners that have been dealing with Aural Plaques for a long time, it may provide relief. Any skin condition should be examined by a veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis and rule out a more serious problem such as sarcoids or sarcoma.
About Dr. Lydia Gray