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Dry skin - supplements and treatments for mild dryness, severe cases, and mange

Always consult your veterinarian before adding supplements to your pig's diet. Certain supplements can interfere with prescription medication or ongoing exasperate health issues.

Why does my pig have such dry skin?

Pig skin has very few sweat glands and thus their skin does not produce much moisturizing oils. Many pigs have poor skin quality from poor nutrition, inadequate time outside, disease, medication side effects, or just unlucky genetics.

Many pigs have "pig rust", a combination of dirt, skin oils, and relatively-harmless skin yeast. This is harmless. Chronic skin irritation from excessive yeast or moisture (like under the eyes, in ears, or leg folds) can lead to secondary skin infections.

When summer comes around, pigs often get scaly skin as they shed their skin and hair for their annual "coat blow". This is totally normal. Fair-skinned piggies often have more skin issues than pigs with darker skin.

Every pig is different. The following non-prescriptive treatments are simply recommendations and may or may not work for each animal. Trying different combinations to see what works for your pig!

What to do about MILD skin dryness?


  • Apply moisturizer (Espree Swine Shine, watered-down scent-free lotion, or similar) and gently exfoliate with a rubber horse brush.

  • Bath occasionally with gentle baby or dog shampoo.

  • Sunscreen is important for any pig with sun sensitivity; we recommend liquid sunscreens with spf 50+ and/or zinc oxide. Sunburned skin can become infected easily, heal dry and flakey, or lead to skin cancer.

  • NOTE: Do not apply oil to their skin as it can lead to sunburn after sun exposure.

Oral supplements

  • Daily vitamin E (400iU per day) available OTC at your local drug store.

  • Weekly selenium (approx 200mcg once a week) available OTC at your local drug store.

  • Daily corn oil (1-2 teaspoon/100lb per day). Corn oil contains linoleic acid which is an omega-6 fatty acid used as an emollient, thickener, and antioxidant in skin care.

  • Daily omega-3 oils (500-2000mg per day). Omega-3s can help moisturize skin.

  • NOTE: avoid feeding your pigs saturated fats (EX: coconut oil, palm oil, and animal fats) as they are not heart-healthy. Polyunsaturated fats (EX: sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed/ground flax, walnut, fish, avocado, canola) are better heart-healthy choices.

Get your pig outdoors!

  • UV light can kill excessive skin yeast.

  • Mud baths help scrub off dead skin and pig rust.

  • Soil and forage provides piggies with vital nutrients to keep their skin healthy!

What to do about SEVERE skin dryness? Consult a vet, first.

If your pig has severely dry skin such as ruptured skin, chronic dampness, redness, or smell, consult a vet immediately. These conditions can all lead to a dangerous secondary infection if left untreated. Following are common solutions to severely dry skin.

Mange (sarcoptic)

  • Signs of mange: excessive itchiness, brownish skin (from mite feces), hair loss, thickening of the skin (hyperkeratosis). A vet can confirm diagnosis via observing a skin scraping under a microscope.

  • Make sure to protect yourself and your other animals: swine mites can be easily transmitted to other pigs, humans, and animals. While they can only breed on pigs, swine mites still bite other hosts and can cause severe irritation up to 14 days before they die. When interacting with a mangey pig, wear disposable long gloves and change out all of your clothing immediately after.

  • If the pig has open sores, consult a vet immediately.

  • If there are no open sores: Bath the pig in warm water with medicated shampoo (EX: Mane 'n Tail Medicated Horse Shampoo) 1-2 times per week until mange has subsided.

  • If there are no open sores: Topically apply Shapley's Original M-T-G after each bath.

  • Wash all bedding and harnesses in hot water 1-2 times per week until mange has subsided.

  • Administer ivermectin (any brand, 1% injectable for swine) 0.1mL/10lb IM, repeat after 10-14 days until mange has subsided. IM (intramuscular) is preferred over PO (oral dosing, doubled) for pigs with mange.

  • Apply permethrin 10 with a spray bottle (follow the bottle's instructions) to the whole body once a week until mange has subsided.


  • Parakeratosis is a disease caused by a relative deficiency of zinc. The deficiency is usually caused by feeding an unbalanced diet that has one or more of the following features: excessive calcium; excessive phytic acid (sometimes present in soybean protein); or a low concentration of essential fatty acids.

  • Supplement with daily zinc (approx. 100 mg/kg per day), available OTC at your local drug store.

Greasy pig

  • Bacterial skin infection caused by Staphylococcus hyicus. It is also called Exudative Epidermitis or Marmite Disease. It is usually seen in piglets under 8 weeks old.

  • In general, treatment has not been very satisfactory. Injectable antimicrobials may be of some benefit. Anecdotal recommendations have included spraying the pigs several times with solutions such as 10% bleach, chlorhexidine, Virkon or dilute tamed iodine.

Skin cancer (melanoma)

Chronic autoimmune disorders

General sunlight or vitamin deficiencies

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