Scabies is an itchy rash caused due to transfer of parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei through close physical contact with the person infected with it. This itchy disease can occur in irrespective of gender, place, and religion. It can get transferred by a close physical contact with a person suffering from scabies or by sharing personal belongings of the scabies patient.
The following article deals with the detailed insight into the classical scabies.
The word scabies has been derived from the Latin word ‘scabere’, which means to scratch. The scabies mite was first identified in the 17th century and was described by Giovanni Cosimo Bonomo-an Italian physician, as one of the first diseases which have a known cause.
It is difficult to diagnose scabies because it has similar signs and symptoms as that of other skin conditions.
The length of the female scabies mite is about 0.4 mm and that of male is about half the size of female. The mating takes place at the skin surface after which the male dies and the female mites creates tunnels beneath the skin where it lays eggs.
The eggs hatch into larvae after a period of about 10-15 days. The adult mites return to the skin surface to multiply further. Mites do not survive for more than 4-6 weeks. On an average there are about 10-12 mites on a person suffering from classical scabies but they can increase in the person with weak immune system.
The female mites are capable of moving 2.5 cm per minute but they cannot jump or fly. For mites to travel from one part body to another, it requires skin contact for 10-15 minutes. Classical scabies usually gets transmitted through direct skin contact but crusted scabies can get transmitted via bedding, towels, clothes and furniture.
Normally, the initial symptoms of scabies are noticed after a period of around 4-6 weeks after infestation.
Risk factors of scabies:
- Poverty, poor nutritional status.
- Poor hygiene.
- Nursing homes
- Sexual contact.
- Children, especially in developing countries.
- Immune suppression (e.g. HIV infection).
Scabies has now emerged as a common public health problem with around 300 million cases worldwide. The number is still rising as it affects millions every year.
Scabies occurs in residential or nursing homes, hospitals, prisons and even in schools. When the disease is not diagnosed properly it is likely to spread easily among large group of people leading to an epidemic. Scabies spreads more in crowded locations, such as refugee camps or people living under extreme poverty.
- After the infestation of the mites it takes around 3-4 weeks for signs and symptoms to appear. Therefore, it is must to start treatment if you are aware you have been in close physical contact with the person infected with scabies. In case of re-infestation of the disease, it takes only 1-3 days.
- The most common and noticeable symptom of the disease is intense itching which gets worse at night.
- Once you recognize the symptoms, get them checked with the doctor to start the right treatment.
- The doctor generally recognizes scabies with the help of ink test. Ink is rubbed over the skin and then rubbed over with alcohol pad. The ink highlights the burrows if mites are present.
- Another way to confirm the presence of mites is by scrapping a little portion of the skin. The doctor examines this under microscope where the mites can be seen if present.