Scabies is a skin disorder characterized by itching. It can be passed from one person to the next through skin-to-skin contact. Scabies are actually caused by tiny four-legged, cream-colored mites, with bristles and spines all over their back that lives and burrows on skin. They’re so tiny they’re almost invisible from the naked. Female mites lay eggs on skin, which hatches to larvae in 3 to 4 days and develop into adulthood within 15 days.
Rashes and itching are actually symptoms of scabies infestation, as the skin’s allergic reaction from their saliva, eggs and poop.
How Common Is It?
Scabies is a common skin problem around the world, especially in highly overcrowded areas. In the United Kingdom, scabies affect 1 in every 1000 people, and is more common in urban areas, particularly among children and women. They thrive during winter, and multiply faster in overcrowded places such as refugee camps.
How is it Acquired?
As said earlier, scabies is a contagious skin condition and passes through one person to another through skin-to-skin contact. This is because these tiny creatures don’t have wings to fly or strong legs to be able to jump.
Short contact such as handshake or hug does NOT pass scabies.
Scabies outbreak is more common among residential homes and nurseries, where people are often in close contact with each other.
Common Symptoms of Scabies Infection
Itching – itching is obviously the most common symptom of scabies, and it can be extremely irritating, as it tends to spread all over the body. Itching also usually worsens at night, or after a hot bath. Infected person can experience itch all over his body, even in uninfected areas.
Burrows or Mite Tunnels – burrows made by mites appear fine dark or silvery, usually 2 to 10mm long. They are common around the loose skin, such as spaces between the fingers, hands, and wrists. They can be pretty hard to notice, unless they start to itch or cause rashes.
Rash – rashes usually show up after the itching. They’re particularly noticeable on the armpits, abdomen, thighs, and nipples (in women). Rashes are quite common, but for some people, they can be pretty unusual, resulting to other skin conditions that make them quite confusing.
In some people, damaged skin even develops to bacterial infection. When this occurs, skin becomes red and inflamed and feels hot and tender.
Aggravates Pre-Existing Skin Conditions – scabies can easily worsen existing skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, making them extremely difficult to diagnose.
And infection usually spreads before one can even realize he or she has it.