Pemphigus foliaceus

From Horse
Pemphigus foliaceous in a horse

Pemphigus foliaceous is a rare immune-mediated disease of horses.

There appears to be no breed, age or sex predisposition for this disease. Affected horses range in age from 2.5 months to 25 years, with a mean of 8.6 years[1].

Clinical signs appear to be seasonal, and in the northern hemisphere, 80% of cases occur between September and February. Oedema, scaling, alopecia and crusts of the skin were the most common lesions, seen frequently on the face, neck and trunk. Lesions are often painful, with pruritus and pyrexia commonly observed[2]. The extremities may be involved and acantholytic cells are often identified cytologically.

Differential diagnoses include fungal infections and dermatophilus infection. Treatments, which often involve corticosteroids, may predispose to laminitis and therefore should be treated cautiously[3].

Nutritional supplements have anecdotally reported to be beneficial in severe cases.


  1. Vandenabeele SI, et al (2004) Pemphigus foliaceus in the horse: a retrospective study of 20 cases. Vet Dermatol 15(6):381-388
  2. Rothwell,, TL et al (1985) Possible pemphigus foliaceous in a horse. Aust Vet J 62(12):429-430
  3. Laing, JA (1992) Pemphigus foliaceous in a 2-month-old foal. Equine Vet J 24(6):490-491