They are an itchy rash caused by a little mite that burrows in the skin surface. The human scabies mite’s scientific name is Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis.
They are nearly always acquired by skin-to-skin contact with someone else with scabies. The contact may be quite brief such as holding hands. Frequently it is acquired from children, and sometimes it is sexually transmitted. Occasionally it is acquired via bedding or furnishings, as the mite can survive for a few days off its human host.
It’s not due to poor hygiene. Nor is it due to animal mites, which do not infest humans. However animal mites can be responsible for bites on exposed sites, usually the forearms.
Typically, an affected host is infested by about 10 -12 adult mites. After mating, the male dies. The female mites burrows into the outside layers of the skin where she lays up to 3 eggs each day for her lifetime of one to two months. The development from egg to adult scabies mite requires 10 to 14 days.
- Itch – The itching appears a few days after infestation
- Burrows – Burrows appear as tiny grey irregular tracks
- Generalized rash – A rash appears as tiny red intensely itchy bumps on the limbs and trunk
- Nodules – Itchy lumps or nodules in the armpits and groins or along the shaft of the penis are very suggestive of them
- Acropustulosis – Blisters and pustules on the palms and soles are characteristic in infants.
- Secondary infection – Impetigo commonly complicates scabies and results in crusting patches and scratched pustules. They only rarely affects the face and scalp, and this most often occurs in young babies and bed-bound elderly patients.
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