Proud flesh is the formation of excessive granulation tissue that develops during the healing process when a cut in the skin has occurred. It most commonly develops in areas where there is not a lot of soft tissue and skin is pulled tight over bone, like in the horses lower leg. These areas are often unable to be sutured as the skin is constantly being pulled whenever the horse moves and therefore the sutures would continually break open.
When an injury occurs and the skin is cut it will heal by forming granulation tissue first and then layers of skin will develop on top. Continual movement and tension of the injured area can cause a disruption in the formation of the skin tissues and this is when excessive granulation tissue or “Proud Flesh” develops. This proud flesh looks like a reddish, bumpy layer that is raised above the normal skin level. It is generally not painful to touch and feels soft and moist.
To help prevent the formation of proud flesh the wound site should be wrapped with a firm compression bandage, if possible. Ideally the wound should remain bandaged until it has fully healed. There are also some topical products that you can put directly onto the wound, either under the bandage or applied to wounds that cannot be bandaged. These products, like Proud-Aid and Yellow Lotion, will help in the healing process while preventing and /or treating the formation of proud flesh.
If proud flesh has already formed a veterinarian may be required to cut the excessive raised tissue off. By removing the proud flesh and cutting it back to the level of the healthy skin it will help allow the new skin layers to develop. The skin will grow from the outside edges of the wound and work inwards. Sometimes the cutting back process may need to be done a few times. After proud flesh has been removed it can several weeks or months for a wound to completely heal.
Originally published in My Pet Magazine Autumn 2015.
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