By Darlene M. Cox
When I purchased my appaloosa gelding five years ago, he had a warty-like blemish under his eye. At the pre-purchase exam, my vet told me this was a sarcoid, which is the most highly diagnosed type of benign (non-cancerous) tumor a horse can have. A second sarcoid later appeared on his canthus. Some breeds of horses are more prone to sarcoids, and of course, appaloosa was amongst that list. My vet advised me to keep an eye on it and that we wouldn’t need to do anything to it unless it started to grow.
I researched the equine sarcoid and learned that while the cause is not necessarily known, although it is suspected to be a papillomavirus most likely akin to bovines, it can be a very tenacious tumor to get rid of. There are four types of sarcoid: flat (occult) that looks like a flat, scaley lesion; verrucous (warty), appearing like a raised wart; fibrablastic, appearing as an easily irritated mass, subjected to bleeding; and a mixed form, one with two or more of the four types. The flat and sometimes verrucous types of sarcoid may not grow bigger or evolve into the fibroblastic type; they may remain statis or may even regress. The fibroblastic type, however, is the most aggressive type, and the one less likely to respond well to treatment. Skin that has received some type of trauma (cuts, injuries, incisions) may be prime sites for the formation of sarcoids. Many geldings present with sarcoids on their scrotal sac after having been gelded. The prime areas for sarcoids to appear are anywhere on the head, on the belly, or legs.
Since my gelding’s sarcoid was increasing in size, I decided it was time to investigate the types of treatment available for them. I was greatly concerned that even with treatment the sarcoid may come back. Treatment options range from surgical removal, cryotherapy, and immunotherapy. I found all of these options very pricey and equated through research that they may have to be repeated several times before the sarcoid was completely removed.
Luckily, my research and digging around led me to a product called Xxterra, which is an all natural, herbal remedy for equine sarcoids. I phoned the Colorado-based veterinarian who developed the product and discussed this treatment option with him. I purchased a jar of the Xxterra ($110) and began applying it over the sarcoid for five days straight. After the five days, I applied it every other day for a total of 10 treatments. After the fourth day, you could see the sarcoid and surrounding skin react to the topical dressing. After the 6th treatment, the skin was beginning to slough away and was hard and dry to the touch. After the 10 treatments, the old skin had completely sloughed off, but I could still see the ‘base’ of the sarcoid.
I bought a second jar of the compound and applied it as I did the first. At the end of this treatment session, the sarcoid was completely gone.
After the treatments had ended, I placed another call to the vet in Colorado and discussed the treatment plan.. I provided him with some positive feedback that I felt the application process should be modified to discontinuing the applications until the old, dead skin sloughed off, and treatments resumed with the product being placed on the base of the sarcoid after the first sloughing period ended. Doing it this way would possibly require less usage of the product and a reduction in expense.
While I don’t know if my treatment recommendation, why appreciated by the vet, was actually placed on the jar (there is a loss of revenue to be realized here, right?), I do know that others to whom I have referred use of this product and who subsequently used my treatment regimen, were able to rid their horses of sarcoids with only one jar of Xxterra.
Regardless, this product and treatment is much less expensive and invasive than the other options available.