What Are Scabies?


Quick Answer

Scabies are parasites transmitted by the skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or prolonged contact with infected bedding or clothing, defines Healthline. Scabies mites eat and breed under the human skin and cause itchy, gray lines on the surface of the skin.

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What Are Scabies?
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Full Answer

Scabies can live on the skin for weeks before symptoms appear, states Healthline. The parasite is typically not visible without a microscope, but can be identified by bite marks and raised lines where the eggs are laid. Bite marks are pink, raised bumps with a fluid-filled top that are sometimes lined up in a row. Scabies bites often appear in the hands and feet, but they can attack the whole body. Scabies affect any race or class of people, but are common in crowded living conditions.

Scabies are difficult to eliminate, and itching continues for weeks after treatment, explains Healthline. Treatment includes a strict procedure and topical medicines prescribed by a doctor. Additional marks that appear after initial treatment may indicate that further treatment is needed. Scabies risks include secondary infections from extensive scratching and Norwegian scabies, which is a heightened strand of scabies. Norwegian scabies are rare and occur from a weakened immune system and untreated scabies that have been untreated for months or years.

Close physical contact and sharing bedding and clothing spreads the mite that causes scabies, explains Mayo Clinic. Prolonged scratching can cause complications such as impetigo to occur. Crusted scabies are a more severe form of scabies that may affect individuals with a lowered immune system. Crusted scabies are extremely contagious, cover large areas of the body and are difficult to treat. Medications such as lindane lotion, permethrin cream, ivermectin and crotamiton promptly kill mites, but the itching may continue for several weeks. Sulfur compounded in petrolatum may be used as an alternative to these medicines.

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