Scabies is an infestation of the skin caused by a small mite called Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis. Scabies is extremely contagious and spreads rapidly in crowded areas like hospitals, nursing homes, child care facilities, prisons, and other locations where people spend extended periods of your time in close contact with one another.
The rash of scabies is extremely itchy and develops when a pregnant female mite burrows into the skin and lays her eggs. The human immune system is very sensitive to the presence of the mite and produces an allergic response that causes intense itching. Although an individual who is infested with scabies usually only has 10–20 mites on his or her entire body, there could also be an outsized number of lesions due to this allergic response. Without treatment, the condition will not usually improve.
Who's at risk?
Scabies is seen in people of all ethnicities, all ages, both sexes, and at all socioeconomic levels. The infestation is not caused by lack of personal hygiene but is more frequently seen in people who live in crowded, urban conditions. People at particular risk are those who are in crowded living situations, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons. Though scabies is extremely contagious, it always requires prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an individual who is already infested. Limited contact, like a hug or handshake, won't normally spread the infection. However, scabies is definitely spread to sexual partners and to other members of the household. Even if a person does not yet have symptoms, he or she can pass the infestation on to other people. Less commonly, it's going to be spread by sharing towels, clothing, or bedding.
Signs and Symptoms
Although the whole body may itch, the foremost common locations for the lesions of scabies include:
Ø The areas between the fingers (finger webs)
Ø Inner wrists, inner elbows, and armpits
Ø Breasts of females and genitalia of males
Ø Navel (umbilicus)
Ø Lower abdomen
Ø Backs of knees
Although in adults it's rare to ascertain lesions on the face, scalp, and neck, these areas are commonly affected in children aged younger than 2 years.
The most obvious signs of scabies are pink-to-red bumps, which may appear as if pimples or bug bites, sometimes with scale or a scab on them. However, the tell-tale lesion of scabies is the burrow, which is small and often difficult to see. Typically, a burrow appears as alittle , thread-like, scaly line (3–10 mm long), sometimes with a small black speck (the burrowing mite) at one end. The adult mite is about 0.3 mm long and is very difficult to see. Scabies mites crawl; they are doing not jump or fly.
People who are exposed to scabies may not develop itchy lesions for up to 6 weeks after becoming infested, as the immune system takes some time to develop an allergic response to the mites. However, individuals who have had scabies before may develop the rash within several days of re-exposure.
Scabies is intensely itchy, especially at night. Excessive scratching of the itchy lesions can create breaks within the skin, which can then become infected with bacteria.
A severe sort of scabies, called Norwegian scabies or crusted scabies, is seen in:
Ø Elderly people
Ø Individuals with weakened immune systems (such as organ transplant recipients or people with HIV/AIDS)
Ø Malnourished people
Ø People who are physically and/or mentally impaired or disabled
Scabies requires prescription medication in order to stop the infestation. Once you are under a doctor's care, there are steps you can take to prevent scabies from coming back:
Ø Mites cannot survive off the human body for more than 48–72 hours. Therefore, wash all clothing, bedding, and towels employed by the infested person within the past 72 hours in predicament , and dry these things during a hot dryer.
Ø Vacuum all carpets, rugs, and furniture, and discard the vacuum bags.
Ø Put anything that cannot be laundered into plastic bags for at least 72 hours.
Ø Pets do not need to be treated because the mite only lives on humans.
You can return to work or school the day after treatment is started.
When to Seek Medical Care
See your doctor if you develop an extremely itchy rash that does not go away. If other members of your household or people with whom you're in close contact have similar itchy rashes, they ought to even be evaluated by a physician.
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