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Scabies Information and Treatment

Scabies is a fairly common infectious disease of the skin caused by a mite. The rash is extremely itchy (and often called "the itch " or "the seven-year itch") and can be difficult to diagnose. It can affect both humans and animals. Scabies can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or personal hygiene. It does not select only those with low-income or poor housing conditions. Scabies is not the same as lice , although the treatment may be the same. In adults, the most common sites are between the fingers and on the wrists, although infection may manifest in elderly people as a diffuse truncal eruption. In infants and children, the face, scalp, palms, and soles are also often affected. Infection with the scabies mite causes discomfort and intense itching of the skin, particularly at night, with irritating papular or vesicular eruptions. The discomfort and itching can be especially debilitating among immunocompromised people, such as those with HIV/AIDS. Scabies is contagious and can spread quickly through close physical contact in a family, child-care group, school class or nursing home. Because of the contagious nature of scabies, doctors often recommend treatment for entire families or contact groups to eliminate the mite. Medications applied to your skin kill the mites, although you may still experience some itching for several weeks.

The word scabies is Latin for "itch". Scabies, also known as sarcoptic itch and acariasis, is the highly contagious infestation with Sarcoptes scabiei , a tiny, whitish-brown, eight-legged mite that burrows into the skin to lay its eggs. Burrowing, egg laying, and feces deposition cause severe skin irritation, eruption, and itchy rash . Scabies mites live for about 30 days, during which time the female mite can lay two or three eggs a day. Eggs hatch quickly and the nits grow to maturity in about 10 days, continuing the cycle of infestation. The mite is named Sarcoptes scabiei . Scabies has become relatively common throughout the general population. It is highly contagious and is spread primarily through sexual contact, although it also is commonly transmitted by contact with skin, infested sheets, towels, or even furniture.

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