When washing is undertaken as a curative measure in skin diseases, or as a sanitary process, there are certain precautions to be observed to make it effectual, and others to prevent the animal from taking cold.
Parasitic diseases, as mange, may have to be treated with greasy applications to the skin, which must be afterwards removed by soap and water for appearance and comfort, or washing may be prescribed to cleanse the skin preparatory to the application of remedial agents.
An abundant supply of warm water should be secured before commencing the operations - a "water" or "dandy" brush, a sponge, scraper, straw wisps, and a sunny morning should be selected if possible. In nearly every case it is well to begin with the face and head, as in any skin affection due to living parasites it is essential that no "cities of refuge", such as the ears and eyelids afford, should be left unassailed. If the washing begins at the head, the parasites are forced backwards and are effectually cut off, or they are washed off the body. The forelock and mane require to be well soaked and brushed down to the roots of the hair, as there is always, even in well-groomed animals, a good deal of desquamated cuticle and other debris accumulated here to harbour the offender. Soft soap, with its excess of alkali, more readily "lifts" this material than the ordinary soaps. If, for this purpose, the soap is rubbed in first, there must be very copious rinsing with warm water afterwards - and a free use of the brush. The same remarks apply to the tail. The neck, shoulders, and front legs are partially washed during the time the mane is receiving attention, the back and loin being wetted last to avoid unnecessary exposure of the body to cold. The belly and legs require the least manual labour, as they have become saturated by the lather running down them from other parts. When the cleansing process has been efficiently performed, a cold douche should be given and the scraper freely applied, to relieve the coat quickly of the greater part of the fluid; then the sponge should continue the work. Exercise should then be given to establish a glow, and the dry wisps should finish the operation when the horse is brought back to the stable. Clothing should not be replaced until the skin feels warm as well as dry.