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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Scabies A Seven-Year Itch

Scabies is derived from the Latin word, scabere meaning "to scratch", also known as the seven-year itch. Scabies is a contagious skin infection that occurs among humans and other animals, marked by small gray or red lines on the skin that are intensely itchy, especially at night. The lines are burrows made by a tiny and usually not directly visible parasite, the mites Sarcoptes scabiei , where the females lay their eggs and the entire reproductive cycles takes only five days. The mites like moist areas such as armpits, in between fingers and genitals. Direct contact with an infected person easily spreads the parasite, although the condition is not serious. Scabies is thus common in overcrowded living quarters.

Symptoms typically appear 2–6 weeks after infestation for individuals never before exposed to scabies. For those having been previously exposed, the symptoms can appear within several days after infestation.
  • Tiny, red lumps on the fingers, hands, wrists, armpits, upper back, groins, genitals, buttocks and toes.
  • Gray or red lines on the skin (burrows where the mites lay their eggs).
  • Intense, generalised itch, which is often worse at night.
  • Sores and scabs due to scratching. 
Crusted scabies in a person with AIDS
The elderly and people with an impaired immune system, such as HIV and cancer sufferers or transplant patients on immunosuppressive drugs, are susceptible to crusted scabies, formerly called "Norwegian scabies". On those with a weaker immune system, the host becomes a more fertile breeding ground for the mites, which spread over the host's body, except the face. Sufferers of crusted scabies exhibit scaly rashes, slight itching, and thick crusts of skin that contain thousands of mites. Such areas make eradication of mites particularly difficult, as the crusts protect the mites from topical miticides, necessitating prolonged treatment of these areas.

A street dog , suffers from sarcoptic mange.
Scabies may also occur in a number of domestic and wild animals. However the mites that cause these infestations are of different scabies subspecies. The most frequently diagnosed form of scabies in domestic animals is sarcoptic mange, which is found on dogs. Domestic animals that have gone feral and have no veterinary care are frequently afflicted with scabies and a host of other ailments. Non-domestic animals have also been observed to suffer from scabies. Do not be alarm though, when canine or feline mites land on human skin, they fail to thrive and produce only a mild itch that goes away on its own.

What you can do
  • Consult a doctor if you suspect scabies.
  • Apply anti-scabies lotion available from pharmacies from below the neck to the soles of the feet, avoid getting it into your eyes. Leave the lotion for 24 hours, then wash off thoroughly. Repeat the treatment for 2 more days.
  • For neonates or small infants, an 8 to 10 hours application may be sufficient.
  • Wash an infested person's clothes, bed linen, and towels thoroughly in hot water.
Prevention Tips
Avoid direct contact with any person who has scabies. Do not share or use an infected person's belongings such as clothes, bed linen, or towels. If you come in direct contact with the infested person, apply anti-scabies lotion even if you do not have the symptoms.


Umihoney said...

thanks for sharing...very useful info

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