This politically correct parasite does not discriminate against anyone. The disease affects all social groups regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic status. Around 300 million people a year are infected with scabies and, what is worse, the number of infected is constantly growing. How do you get scabies?
Scabies, or what?
Scabies is an infectious skin disease caused by human scabies, an ectoparasite belonging to the mite. It is imperceptible to the naked eye because its maximum length is only 0.5 mm. It has eight legs that allow it to crawl at a speed of 2.5 cm per minute on hot skin. Świerzbowiec has no ability to jump or fly. The female drills in the epidermis blindly endowed scabies burrows, in which she lays two or three eggs a day. Scabies feeds on epidermal cells, which is one of the main factors limiting survival outside the skin. The incubation period of scabies for primary infestation is usually three to four weeks. This means that the source of infection can be a person who has no symptoms.
The cause of scabies in humans is the parasitic activity of human scabies, which can be caught mainly in direct contact with the sick.
The fertilized female drills tunnels in the stratum corneum, feeding on keratin contained in the skin. In hollow mink, the female lays 2 to 3 eggs (each day). The full development cycle of scabies lasts about 3 weeks and multiplication is promoted by, among others higher temperature. The symptoms of scabies – itching, rash and local dermatitis – are the body’s response to parasite secretions. The development of disease symptoms ranges from 2 to even 6 weeks from the time of infection.
Scabies – how can you get infected?
Scabies infection occurs:
- through direct contact with a sick person – e.g. by touching or nursing a sick person,
- through sexual contact,
- less often through indirect contact – e.g. when using objects that belong to the patient (towel, clothing, bedding).
When the disease is correctly diagnosed, treatment covers both the patient and their immediate surroundings. Importantly – human scabies can survive outside the host for up to 72 hours. The presence of parasites has been noted, among others in the dust of the rooms where the patient was on a daily basis. A very high level of infectivity is characterized by so-called Norwegian scabies – a rare, severe type of disease. In this case, indirect infection is more likely.
How is this treated?
The condition for the effectiveness of the therapy is meticulous compliance with medical recommendations. Topical permethrin, benzyl benzoate and oral ivermectin and sulfur ointments are used. Patients treated with permethrin or ivermectin can return to school or work as soon as 24 hours after implementation of the therapy. Most therapeutic failures are caused by a lack of compliance with medical recommendations.
Complications of scabies are rare. For this disease, the most dangerous is the lack of early diagnosis – as the infection develops, the skin lesions can increase and lead to secondary bacterial infections. The faster the treatment is started, the lower the risk of complications (except for allergic reactions to medications).
Complications of scabies:
- persistent itching of the skin
- nodular changes in children (rare), parasitophobes (fear of parasites),
- allergic reactions
- local irritation after using topical medications.