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A Simple Equine Sarcoid Treatment
by Richard Klimesh

History -

January 2009. While grooming my 10-year-old gelding, Sherlock, I felt a small growth on his inner flank, about the size of a gum drop, in the crease where the flank joins the abdomen. It wasn't sensitive and didn't bother Sherlock so I simply made a mental note to check it periodically.

equine sarcoid treatmentJanuary 2010. The growth had increased to the size of a small walnut although the area of attachment seemed quite small (photo at left). It was neither soft nor hard - rather like squeezing an orange. It was not sensitive and was not causing any problems. Nevertheless, because it had doubled in size I sent photos to a veterinarian to get his opinion.

The vet said, "It's probably a pedunculated sarcoid. Sarcoids are a common skin virus of horses. This one, based on my imperfect observations of one photo, is probably easily banded to remove. However, my recommendation with sarcoids is to always leave them alone unless they are causing some sort of problem. They represent no threat at all to the health of the horse, they only interfere with the tack if they are in a bad position. Sometimes when we remove them, we cause the virus to spread, however this is not much of a concern when we band them."

I decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

March 9, 2010. I contacted my vet: "Next time you are up this way and you have time, would you stop in and take a close look at that growth on Sherlock? It seems to be getting larger and a small scab came off it a few days ago. I'm sure it bothers me more than it does Sherlock, but I'd like to get your first hand opinion so I can make definite plans to either do something about it or forget it."

The vet came by a few days later and after examining the sarcoid he banded it - using a specialized hand tool he slipped a heavy duty rubber band over the sarcoid so it constricted around the base. This cuts off the blood supply to the tumor and eventually it drops off. I kept Sherlock in a pen so that I could collect the sarcoid when it dropped. I checked it every day and it got looser and looser and then began to smell and I thought it would never come off.

March 23, 2010. Two weeks after banding the sarcoid was gone. . . and was nowhere to be found in the pen. The place where it had attached looked healthy and pink so said good riddance to the sarcoid (so I thought) and turned Sherlock back out on pasture.

equine sarcoid treatmentNovember 1, 2010. On my daily check of the horses I noticed some blood droplets on Sherlock's left hind pastern. Examining him closer I found a new and different looking growth (fibroblastic sarcoid in photo at left) at the site of the previous sarcoid. It was being abraded when Sherlock moved, causing it to bleed. I contacted the vet. Here's what he had to say:

"Sorry to see this has returned. Now it looks more cutaneous, flatter, and perhaps some XTerra might work. This is a topical ointment, a caustic debridement agent, that is made at Vetline in Fort Collins, CO. Sometimes it works well, but the location of this lesion makes any treatment difficult. These sarcoids can be a bugger to beat. Maybe CSU [Colorado State University in nearby Fort Collins] has a freeze treatment, I don't know but it might be worthwhile to consult with them. And of course it's always a good idea to wait a while and see what develops. I don't think he's in much discomfort or danger from this. Good luck."

I then did some web research and found XTerra that the vet mentioned, some other caustic treatments, and a few herbal formulas, all of which had mixed reviews. I also came across several anecdotal accounts on horse forums of successful rapid elimination of equine sarcoids by application of Crest toothpaste. Some who had used the toothpaste method speculated that it was the flouride in the toothpaste that killed the sarcoid virus. I figured if it was true that flouride was the healing agent then mouthwash containing flouride (which we just happened to have in the medicine cabinet) would be as effective as toothpaste and much easier to apply, since it could be sprayed on the tumor rather than applied by hand or with an applicator stick.

I began treatment, which consisted solely of spraying the sarcoid once daily with full strength commercial mouthwash ("ACT" brand) containing 0.05% sodium flouride. I used a small spray bottle that came in an eyeglass cleaning solution kit. This was very handy and easy to use. I found it very difficult to bend over and twist my head to get a good look at the sarcoid because of its location and doing so put my head in a vulnerable position should Sherlock suddenly bring his hind hoof forward. I found that with the small spray bottle I could remain upright and reach down with this little spray bottle and hit the sarcoid without looking.

Sherlock tolerated this daily treatment well. One reason is because I never had to touch the sarcoid to administer treatment. Also, Sherlock's ground training had included thoroughly sacking out with a spray bottle of water.

equine sarcoid treatment


Twenty days from the first spray the sarcoid had dried up and was sloughing. I put on a rubber glove, pulled an old sock over that and gently rubbed the dry tissue to remove it. This was done completely dry with no washing of the area.

equine sarcoid treatment

Same Day


The photo at left shows the site of the sarcoid immediately after the dry matter was brushed off. I have given no further treatment, but will commence at the first sign of new sarcoid development.



equine sarcoid treatment


12 days later and site of the sloughed sarcoid is healing over nicely (photo at left), with no sign of sarcoid.

I reported these results to the vet who replied,

"Looks like it did an awesome job if indeed the lesion was a sarcoid. It is also possible that the second lesion was traumatic in origin (a bacterial dermatitis), without a biopsy we can't say. I am certain the first lesion was a sarcoid, the second one, I thought it most likely was, but based on the rapidity and totality of the healing, and also the long scar that is apparent in the last picture, I am now a bit doubtful that it was a sarcoid, but it is most certainly possible. This healing is remarkable, if it indeed was a sarcoid."



equine sarcoid treatment

UPDATE (photo at left)


No sign of the sarcoid returning.




No sign of the sarcoid returning.


I am not a vet. As far as I know this method of treating sarcoids with flouride mouthwash has only been used by me and only in this one case. If you decide to try it, do so at your own risk. Please let me know how it works for you.

Email me at:

Good Luck!

UPDATE - July 4, 2013

Some horseowners have written to tell me of their success using other unconventional sarcoid treatments. Here are some:

Thuja oil (white cedar). "the sarcoid started to shrink after about 2 weeks and just kept getting smaller until it disappeared."

Balanced Eco Solutions. "It is not the fluoride but Sanguinaria Canadensis also known as bloodroot is the ingredient having an effect on the sarcoid. Sanguinaria Canadensis is included in toothpaste and dental hygiene products as an antibacterial or anti-plaque agent. Bloodroot is also the major component of Xxterra and Aldera that is widely prescribed by veterinarians for sarcoids. We offer a non bloodroot salve that clears both the sarcoid and associated Bovine Papilloma virus. Because our products are non bloodroot based they do not burn or cause the horse any discomfort. It is safe to use around the eyes and other sensitive areas. Some of the cases we see are large or multiple sarcoids that have been there for years. Our program has an 85%-90% success rate and zero reoccurrence rate." - Ron, Balance Eco Solutions

UPDATE - February, 2016

I've heard from dozens of horseowners who have treated their horses' sarcoids with flouride mouthwash. Some had the same good results that I had with Sherlock, the sarcoid dried up and went away. Others saw the sarcoid diminish in size but not go away, while others saw no effect whatsoever. Success could be affected by the type of sarcoid and the physiology of the horse. In any event, the method is simple, non-invasive, non-traumatic, inexpensive, has no reported side effects and it just might work. Here are a few of the comments I've received:

-- After reading your segment on using mouthwash on sarcoids i thought i would give it a go on on my paint mare . . . since im in OZ I used a mouthwash called plax . . . after 3 days of spraying twice a day im allready seeing astounding results most of the scabby crust like stuff is gone ..and seems to healing at a rapid rate :) - Jenny, Australia

    UPDATE April, 2017: Just thought i would touch base again with my paint mare and show u the results - amazing, and she remains free of any sarcoids. - Jenny, Australia

-- I can't thank you enough for your tip about using fluoride mouthwash on equine sarcoids. I have a 7 year old Arabian gelding, Antez, who developed a spot on his neck, about the size of a quarter. It was almost perfectly round, crusty, hairless with a white spot in the center. It fit the description of a sarcoid. I tried using Act mouthwash on the lesion as you demonstrated. I dabbed it on twice daily with a cotton ball. Within 48 hours the lesion was gone. In it's place is fresh healthy skin. I'm astounded! - J M, New Mexico

-- My horse developed sarcoids at her left chest/armpit and another at the left stifle. The one in her armpit was approx 1 1/2”inch in diameter and about 1 1/2-2” in length. The one on the stifle was about ½”x 1/4”. I first started using act mouthwash spray and saw some slow improvement. As the weather changed and it became rainy out I thought tooth paste may not be washed off as easily. I ended up using a crest whitening tooth paste with the highest concentration of fluoride I could find. Not sure if it was the fluoride, the whitening agent or just the fact that I kept bugging the growths with “something”. The one on the stifle has healed with new hair growing and the one on her chest is about ¼” x ¼” now. I am amazed at how good they look. I treated them 3-5 times a week and a couple of times went for a whole 7 days in between treatments when I was out of town. When I applied either the spray or the paste I pulled the crusty cap off and applied the treatment right to the gooey tissue. It is not a fast process, I started treating her in the middle of October but has surely been worth the persistence. Once they are healed totally I will keep a close eye on her as I know they are happy to return…so, I’ll keep a tube of toothpaste on hand. - P M, Washington State

-- I sent a picture of two questionable spots (on my mare) to my local vet. He diagnosed them as sarcoids and the only treatment he suggested was surgery. So I decided to try the mouthwash idea after reading about it on your site. I started with the mouthwash I had on hand which did not have the recommended fluoride content. Sarcoids did not go away however they did not increase in size either. Two of them were the size of a Canadian two dollar coin and one was the size of a kidney bean. I went out and purchased mouthwash with the recommended fluoride content and within a month, two of the sarcoids disappeared and the third is almost completely gone! And the hair is re-growing over the spots! So thanks again for the advice, it's really working for me! - C. K.

-- I read your article around June, 2015. My horse had a sarcoid on his right cheek about the size of a quarter. It had grown rather quickly. My vet had examined it and spoke to a vet she knows that specializes in dermatological issues with horses. He recommended surgery. I started searching online and found that most people who messed with sarcoids in any way ended up irritating it and it became angry and inflamed and continued to grow. It was then that I found your article and figured I'd try it, all it would cost be would be the small price of the mouthwash. It was gone in about 2 weeks and hasn't returned (it is now 2/14/2016). My vet was so amazed when I called her that she literally screamed, "Yay it's gone, I can't believe that worked, Oh My God". I'm glad you posted your article. - C.W.

-- I read your sarcoid info with interest. My warmblood has a huge sarcoid on his sheath approx. 4-5inches x inch round, which after reading your info I decided to try the fluoride, I purchased from America the ACT mouthwash, and a spray bottle, and started spraying the sarcoid daily. So far after approx. 2 weeks, the sarcoid turned quite crusty and red on the end and then half fell off!! now the smaller sarcoid has again gone crusty and red on the end, I am hoping that it to will now fall. - T.G.


Best of Luck!

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