About Scabies, Its Causes & Its Transmission?
Scabies infestation is an extremely common condition which has been reported for over 2,500 years. About 300 million cases of scabies cases occur each year throughout the world. Scabies disease is caused by itch mites called Sarcoptes scabiei which have a round body and eight legs. They burrow under the human epidermis for laying eggs, and feed on human blood. Scabies mites are so small in size that they are barely visible to the naked eye. The adult female mites are about 0.3 to 0.4 mm long, while the males are half the size of the females. These scabies itch mites can; however, be seen with a magnifying glass or a microscope. They cause extreme itching in the body and trigger the formation of gray lines and red bumps on the skin. Scabies mites get transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, or by extended contact with the bedding, clothing, or towels of a scabies patient. So, scabies most commonly occurs in places where living conditions are crowded like in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other institutions. Scabies can affect people from any race or age group.
What Does Scabies Look Like?
Scabies is primarily identified by the rash caused by the infection. The rash looks like a pimple or blister which is pink in color. It is raised and clear with a fluid-filled top. Usually, these rashes are formed in a straight line. AT times, scaly patches on the skin surface are also observed with the scabies infection. The affected area is extremely itchy which gets worse during nighttime. This itchiness causes the infected person to scratch over the area constantly making him vulnerable to secondary infections. Scabies itch mites can attack the entire body, specifically the skin around the feet and hands. Scabies bumps may also look like rashes caused by syphilis, dermatitis, poison ivy, and other parasites like fleas.
How to Get Rid of Scabies?
Scabies mites can live and reproduce on the skin for several weeks before the immune system of the body is activated and the infected individual develops an allergic reaction resulting in the symptoms of Scabies. It takes about 4-5 days for the eggs to hatch into larvae and it takes another 3-4 days for the larvae to mature and further lay eggs. This cycle continues until medical treatment is started to stop the infection. Anyone exposed to scabies, their family members and sexual partners should get treated immediately to get rid of scabies. This is important since scabies can spread and also become tough to treat in the latter stages. Scabies treatment usually includes the use of oral or topical scabicidal drugs. Scabicides effectively kill the scabies mites and eggs. The scabicidal creams or lotions should be allowed to remain on the body for the recommended duration before being rinsed off with water. Certain other medications can also be prescribed to control and relieve scabies symptoms like itching and swelling. Even when the first application of scabies medicine works, the itching can still continue for weeks. The scabies patients should always be watchful about the formation of new tracks or bumps, as these signs can indicate the need for a second scabies treatment. OTC medication and home remedies have yet not proven effective in eliminating scabies.
- World Health Organization (WHO) – Scabies Fact Sheet: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/scabies
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Scabies Overview: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/scabies/index.html
- American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) – Scabies: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/scabies
- National Health Service (NHS) – Scabies Overview: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/scabies/
- DermNet NZ – Scabies: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/scabies/
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