What creates hair loss on horse faces?


What causes hair loss on horse faces and around the eyes? Well, this may be the biggest can of worms EVER. In a nutshell, time to start ruling a bunch of stuff out and enlist the help of your veterinarian to get to the root cause of this hair loss.


Jump to video and shopping


red horse with hair loss around the eyes

Hair loss can also happen during the winter months.


Reasons why your horse may have some hair loss on his face and around his eyes:


  • Your horse is sensitive to bugs.  Some bugs, like midges (AKA no see-ums) can create sweet itch on the face and dorsal side of your horse’s body. 


  • Sensitivity to heat.  Does this mean that hair melts off?  No, but heat and humidity can certainly combine with other factors to contribute to hair loss.


  • The sun is too harsh and your horse is sensitive to UV rays.  It may just be some pink skin under the hair, or your horse can have full-blown photosensitivity where blisters form.  This is a unique situation where a food or digestive problem makes the horse’s body react wildly to sunlight. 


  • Sensitivity to fly spray.  There are dozens upon dozens of formulations of fly spray, you could try another brand.  Or, use fly masks. 


  • These sensitivities almost always cause itching, which causes rubbing and hair loss.  It’s also possible that your horse is the “perfect storm” and many things are triggering hair loss. 





More reasons your horse has hair loss on his face


Consider these causes of hair loss with the help of your vet:


  • Allergies. To the air, grasses, a part of your horse’s food, there are so many possible allergens.


  • Lice, although this is more common in winter as lice don’t like warm temperatures.  You may be able to see lice in the mane and tail. 


  • Fungal and bacterial infections.  Horses can develop skin issues from the fungi and bacteria that live in your horse’s environment.  Sometimes those skin infections cause hair loss. 


  • Growths may be the cause of hair loss.  Sarcoids and melanomas don’t always look like growths, and may appear smooth with hair loss. 


  • Ringworm – This is a fungal infection. It’s also contagious to other horses, and to you.  


  • Onchocerciasis, which is a worm infection and sounds gross.


  • Eye infections. Remember – eyes don’t grow back, so take this seriously!



chestnut horse with mild hair loss around the face

Hair loss can happen near eyes, across cheeks, and sometimes around the bridle areas.


  • And, this could just be the tip of the iceberg. It’s always best to involve your veterinarian to determine the cause of this hair loss.


  • While waiting for lab results to come back, be diligent about using a fly mask and ensure you are on top of bug control.


  • Even if you are diligent about not using fly sprays on your horse’s face, products and fly sprays on the legs transfer to the face with rubbing.  If you suspect a facial reaction to fly spray, try fly boots instead of spray for the front legs.


  • You can also try a fatty acid-based fly spray for your horse if you think the chemical or oil-based fly sprays are irritating. These are not applied to your horse’s face, which can help the skin heal.




go shopping button for horse products


I’ve had a lot of luck with these fly masks and boots and sprays. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, and that costs you absolutely nothing extra! I thank you for your support.


This fly spray is weird but also great for certain types of flies


Cashel Crusader Horse Fly Mask with Ears and Long Nose – select size


Cashel Quiet Ride Standard Horse Fly Mask with Ears for riding


Another style of long-nose fly mask for horses


How about some fringe?

           This fly mask is also great for use under grazing muzzles to prevent rubs. 



Cashel Quiet Ride Bug Armor – 2 Piece Set

Amigo Mio Fly sheet – I love this one, the extra long tail prevents bugs up the butt, and the neckpiece is great. It’s also super light, which means it tears easily.

                              Zebra prints are said to confuse flies.



Thank you! 




hair loss on horses face and eye area