Scabies has been around for hundreds of years and has many connotations, but what actually is it and how do you contract it?
Scabies is the name given to a skin condition that causes a severe itchy rash due to mites called sarcoptes scabiei making their way into the skin.
How do you catch it?
Scabies can be contracted by anyone, from any part of the world. Transmission is caused by an infected person having direct skin contact with another person, and sexual contact is one of the most common ways scabies can spread. Babies who are breast fed by their mothers are also vulnerable. Scabies cannot be caught by touching furniture.
How long do the symptoms last?
The symptoms can last up to two months. Although the mites themselves only live for up to 72 hours, once they are embedded in a human, they can survive much longer. It can take up to six weeks for symptoms to show, which means someone who has scabies can infect another person without knowing.
Are pets carriers of scabies?
There is a version of scabies that can be found in cats and dogs called mange. This can be spread to humans, but the mange mites cannot survive on people and the condition does not require treatment. Animals do need treatment as their symptoms can be much worse.
Signs to look out for
The first sign of scabies is a rash of spots anywhere on the body, but especially elbows, wrists, around the fingers and toes and armpits. The spots may crust over and there may be fine lines around the area.
More and more patients are self-diagnosing their health problems online. Home testing kits, such as chlamydia testing kits Greenwich from companies such as https://www.checkurself.org.uk/plus/home_sti_kits/, are also becoming more widely used.
First, a medical professional will need to diagnose the condition as scabies. This can be done by scraping the skin, examining it using dermoscopy and using adhesive tape to cover the sores, then viewing under a microscope.
Treatment needs to be prescribed and comes in the form of a cream that covers the body and is left on overnight, before being washed off. If the patient has a severe case, oral medication may be prescribed.
Following diagnosis, all bed linen should be washed at a high temperature.