Five Frequently Asked Questions about Scabies

Five Frequently Asked Questions about Scabies

Five Frequently Asked Questions about Scabies

, Five Frequently Asked Questions about ScabiesScabies is common (occurs throughout the world, more common in low socioeconomic communities, but occurs in affluent societies too) contagious skin disease, caused by itch mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. Approximately 300 million individuals are infested by itch mite every year globally.

Can we get scabies form cats, dogs and other animals?

Dogs, cats and other animals do not transmit scabies, because other types of mite (and not Sarcoptes scabiei) infest them. When the mites from cats or dogs land on human skin, they cannot thrive. The mites from cats and dogs only produce minor itch and go away on its own, without any treatment.

How scabies is diagnosed?

Scabies is diagnosed based on clinical examination (mainly inspection, which shows bumps and blisters on skin, as well as burrows) and by its typical symptom, i.e. severe itch that get worse at night. Diagnosis of scabies can be confirmed by microscopic examination of skin scrapings from a burrow. This may be a difficult procedure, because finding burrows may be difficult and after examining several burrows, no eggs, and mite can be identified. If diagnosis can not be confirmed, treatment of scabies is done based on clinical findings and history.

Is there any risk of misdiagnosis of scabies?

There is always a possibility of misdiagnosis of scabies. Initially it may take several moths for symptoms to appear after infestation. Initial, symptoms may not suggest scabies and may be mistaken for insect bite or pimple. In the later stage of disease, the risk of misdiagnosis is less and can easily be diagnosed after clinical examination, careful history taking and microscopic examination of skin scrapings.

What are the complications of scabies?

Itching may be severe in scabies, which will lead to scratching and ulceration/abrasion on skin, which may in turn lead to bacterial infection (such as staphylococcal skin infection or streptococcal infection) with bacteria normally present on the skin. Norwegian scabies is very severe form of scabies and need aggressive treatment with appropriate scabicidal agents.

How to prevent scabies infestation?

Prevention of scabies infestation/transmission is possible. Avoid close and prolonged contact with individuals infested with itch mite. If one member of a family is infested, all the members of the family should be treated simultaneously, to prevent transmission. Sexual contacts/partners should be treated along with the patient.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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