Doing Battle Against Sarcoids


There are multiple sarcoid treatment optionsWhile grooming your horse you discover a gray, wart-like growth on your horse’s skin. It doesn’t seem to be causing your horse any pain, but it’s not attractive and, after monitoring it for a few weeks, you determine that’s it’s continuing to grow in size. Is it cancer? Is it a skin disease? Is it curable?

Chances are it’s probably a sarcoid. These non-cancerous skin tumors appear on horses of all colors and breeds. They come in two forms: a nubby gray surface that has a sort of cauliflower appearance and a flatter fleshy type that may eventually resemble the look of proud flesh. To confirm that a skin growth is indeed a sarcoid, your vet will perform a simple skin biopsy. Once that’s the diagnosis, there are several treatments available.

One choice is surgery, however, the procedure must remove all affected skin and that may be difficult. Any sarcoid cells that remain will simply return. Cryosurgery utilizes liquid nitrogen. Applied carefully, it freezes the sarcoid which then dies and sloughs off. The process often kills off hair follicles, too, so that a bare spot remains or the hair that does return is white. Finally, there is a pair of newer approaches. One is to use chemotherapy drugs and inject them locally into and around the sarcoid. Another is the use of a topical cream containing natural alkaloids and other ingredients. The substances cause a localized immune response that causes the horse’s body to reject the sarcoid tissue.

Not every treatment works for every sarcoid, which means you may have to do some experimentation. Keep in mind, too, that regardless of your treatment plan the sarcoid area will look worse before it eventually looks better. So don’t do battle with a sarcoid a month before a major horse show. As the sarcoid dies and peels away from the skin, it will leave behind an oozing lesion that requires some daily care until it heals. But eventually the majority of sarcoids can be defeated once you and your vet come up with a war plan.


  1. Our TB mare had a sarcoid on her shoulder when we rescued her. We immediately started chemo treatment. After that treatment was unseccessful we agreed to surgery which proved to keep the sarcoid at bay for about 8 years.
    There are now more treatments options than there were 8 years ago. As it turns out we now are in the position of deciding on her next treatment.
    We appreciate the information presented.

  2. I cured my horse’s cauliflower-looking sarcoid with a mixture of equal parts turmeric, dry mustard, and zinc-oxide-containing diaper rash lotion. I put that on every other day or so for three months. It got worse before it got better, but now it is gone completely and has been for two years. I also started giving him a zinc-containing horse multi-vitamin once a week. I know it sounds too easy, but it’s cheap and you have nothing to lose. It worked for my horse. He also doesn’t get scratches any more. Maybe it’s the supplement.

  3. hi as I was grooming my horse today I found a horse grey cauliflower looking wart it is on her back leg. and I am very concerned about it also she has also has a red fleshy one under her stomach I am very worried would you say they are most properly sarcoides?

  4. We have been treating our horses sarcoid with Xxtera that was about the size of a quarter for a 1 1/2 weeks. It was the size of a quarter but over night it became a large oozing lesion very fleshy. What treatment do you recommend to keep area clean? We continue to use the Xxtera but the area needs to be cleaned first before we apply the Xxtera? Is it best to keep this area open.

  5. The majority of the traditional treatments do not address the underlying cause of sarcoids the Bovine Papilloma Virus. That is why they have an 80% recurrence rate. We have used Sarcoid Salve to remove the sarcoid and virus. It is an herbal paste that will not burn or cause your horse any discomfort. We treated our gelding and it removed the sarcoid and has been sarcoid free for over 6 years.

  6. I have a made that has a sarcoid near her tear duct and within her eyelid. It has been biopsied and confirmed that it is an aggressive sarcoid. It was cut off and chryoed, but it returned even larger in 6,months. My vet has been using an experimental ointment that was working initially, but seems to have stopped. I also have her on Vitolite, a detox. She has developed a couple of random sarcoids on her throatlatch and her side. I am wondering what I should do? This is a fast growing sarcoid and it interferes with her vision when it is growing. I feel like my vet has given me the doomsday prognosis for her. I want to do everything I can for her. Any information to get me on the right track would be greatly appreciated.

  7. My horse was diagnosed Sept 2011, by the vet, with a sarcoid cancer on her shoulder. It was cured completely using liquid Kyolic garlic from the health food store. It worked on my grandson’s warts so I tried it on the sarcoid and also a patch of warts on my horse’s back leg. By applying once a day each morning the warts disappeared in 3 wks never returning and the sarcoid slowly started to heal and was completely gone by Aug 2012. It has been over 3 yrs and no signs of the sarcoid or warts.

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