Scabies is an itchy skin disease appearing as little blisters or/and sores in certain parts of the body. It affects all ages but mostly children.
It is found in between the fingers, inner surface of the wrist, the waistline, navel, the genitals (penis in men and labia in women) and the sides of the breast in women.
The severe itching of scabies due to allergy to the mites which cause it, gives it away.
“Craw-Craw” or scabies is caused by the infestation of the skin by a mite Called “sarcoptes scabei” in man. Other species of these mites infest domestic animals like cat and dogs and may temporarily infest man. The female mite burrows throw the outer layers of the skin at the rate of two to three mm per day and lays about three eggs everyday of her four to five weeks lifespan. The eggs hatch after three or four days and the male and female young mites take about 10days to mature. At about the tenth day or so, they copulate and immediately after, the male dies, while the female continues the business continues the business of laying eggs and hatching new mites.
Scabies is predominantly a childhood phenomenon but it is by no means limited to children. Both female and male are equally affected but there may be a slight variation in the distribution of the rashes which however is due mainly to differences in individual habits.
Transmission is by direct close contact with an infested individual but in some cases there might be transfer of parasites from undergarments, soiled bed clothes and other garments freshly contaminated by infested persons. Scabies may also be transmitted among adults during sexual contact; and in such cases, the rashes are found on the genitals the penis and the scrotum in the male and labia in the female.
There is usually a rapid transmission among children the children of nursery and primary schools and epidemics have occurred during periods of war and economic crisis, in prisons, in army barracks or in any situation that favors overcrowding. Children who get infested at school may transmit the infestation of their peer groups at home and even their parents.
1. Prompt treatment
Scabies rashes resemble some other types of skin conditions especially in the early stages, it is necessary to see the Doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Prompt treatment of those affected using drugs prescribed is advised; all members of the household and siblings must be treated as well whether affected or not. This is meant to prevent them from contracting the disease.
Where several members of a hostel or barrack are infested, treatment should be taken on a co-ordinate mass basis.
2. Personal hygiene
Scabies is essentially a disease of people with dirty habits and living in crowded apartments; average hygienic measures should be carried out to keep scabies away.
Children should be trained to develop the habit of washing their hands with soap and water whenever they return from playing grounds and their underwear should be changed every day. Nails of children should be properly trimmed regularly as long finger nails could facilitate spread.
3. Identification of contacts
All contacts of infected persons should be traced and identified; they should be taken to the doctor for appropriate treatment. Children must complete treatment before returning to school. In hospital, contacts are usually isolated until treatment is complete.
4. Appropriate treatment of clothes
Use of fresh of inner wears (pants and singlets) daily helps to prevent scabies infection. Clothes and beddings used by an affected person must be laundered in hot water, dried in the sun and ironed properly before being used again. Ditto for all other clothes and beddings in the house.
5. Proper Sexual behavior
As said earlier, scabies may also be transmitted among adults during sexual contact; and in such cases, the rashes are found on the genitals the penis and the scrotum in the male and labia in the female.
Sexual discipline can therefore help in the prevention of scabies; promiscuous adults living in overcrowded unhygienic environment are at high risk of contracting scabies.
The greatest weapon against a disease is to be aware of the disease; a rudimentary knowledge of the cause, how it spreads, the symptoms and when to see the doctor is all you need.