Nature of Scabies in People with Weak Immune System

Human body’s immune system is the natural defense against diseases or against invasion of anything that doesn’t belong to it. That is why immune system develops various conditions as a reaction against foreign agents. Parasitic infestation, like scabies mites are also met with resistance posed by immune system. Stronger the immune system, better and quicker is the chance of healing from wounds, disease, infections etc. and vice-versa.

People with weak immune system struggle in scabies treatment and the condition can take its most severe form – crusted scabies. Weak immunity system can be attributed to different variables but before moving on to further discussion, we would suggest going through brief overview of Scabies.

What’s scabies?

Scabies, also known as seven-year-itch, is a parasitic infections caused by a mite, Sarcoptes Scabiei that burrows into first layer of host’s skin, feed on it, lays eggs, and keep tunneling throughout its lifespan, if not terminated. One mite can lay about 10-12 eggs in its entire lifespan and these eggs hatch within 2-3 days. In 10-15 days, mite grows into adults, thus, enhancing and continuing reproduction cycle. On an average, an infected host is infested with 5-10 mites and a strong immune system is capable of responding to it.


Scabies is characterized by severe itching, appearance of red bumps, rashes and zigzag lines. The bumps are home to mite’s eggs and zigzag lines appear due to movement of mite under host’s skin. The lines are visible more clearly after scratching affect part of skin.

The telltale symptom of scabies is that the itching gets intense in bed during night. The mite requires a temperature of above 6 degrees Celsius to be active and it easily gets it when host is under warm bedding.


Scabies is a highly contagious disease and spreads easily and quickly from infected host to anyone who comes in contact with it. Scabies mites can survive for about 48 hours, hiding in bedding, cloths, towel, or other accessories with which infected person make contact. That’s the reason doctors recommend entire family or people sharing space with infected person to undergo same medical treatment through which the infected person is undergoing.

People with weak immune system are more vulnerable

People with weak or inactive immunity system are more vulnerable to scabies. Worse, such people would struggle more than a person with average immune system in fighting against parasitic mites and its eggs. Weak immune system offers lesser resistance to invasion and reproduction of the parasite.

In people living with HIV/AIDS, most severe type of scabies infection is reported – crusted scabies. A person with crusted scabies can have thousands to millions of mites at a time, while a normal person usually has 10-15 of them.

Other immunocompromised cases

People having chemotherapy, frail people who are elderly or ill due to other existing medical conditions, malnourished, and people with nerve-related problems posse weaker immune response. Thus, they are at a greater risk of aggravation of scabies.

Kids, pregnant women, and people with other neurological disorders also struggle with compromised immune system.


It takes weeks, even months to completely get rid of scabies despite taking medical treatment. Most common medication recommended by health experts is 5% permethrin, a type of insecticide that requires repeated application on the inflicted part. For people who are allergic to permethrin, malathion liquid is prescribed as an alternative insecticide.

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