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Scabies: Risk Factors & Complications

Dr. Shaunak Patel 85% (117 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Dermatology
Dermatologist, Ahmedabad  •  9 years experience
Scabies: Risk Factors & Complications

Scabies is a contagious condition, which can spread through physical contact. An estimate shows that scabies infects over 300 million people worldwide per year. This eight-legged microscopic mite creates a tunnel in the human skin and lays eggs in it. These larvae move under the surface of the skin and spread across the whole body, once hatched. Dogs, cats, and mice can also be affected by this disease. It usually takes 2-6 weeks for the symptoms to develop. Signs and symptoms of scabies involve itching, rashes, sores and thick crusts on the surface of the skin.

Some of the risk factors of scabies are:

  1. An infected person can easily pass scabies to his/her household or sexual partners. Scabies in adults is usually sexually acquired.
  2. The likelihood of scabies increases easily under crowded conditions, which involve close body and skin contact. Nursing homes, prisons, and several types of care facilities are sites of scabies outbreaks.
  3. Scabies spreads through direct, prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who has mites.
  4. Immunocompromised, elderly and disabled people also suffer from an increased likelihood of contracting this skin condition.

Complications of scabies include:

  1. Persistent and vigorous scratching can break the surface of your skin which can lead to secondary bacterial infections. Impetigo, a superficial infection is quite a common occurrence in case of such.
  2. Vigorous scratching, which can break your skin and can cause a secondary infection such as impetigo. This superficial skin infection is usually caused by the staphylococci bacteria.
  3. Crusted scabies is the most severe form of scabies which is common among certain groups. People suffering from diseases such as HIV or leukemia and severely ill people who have weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of contracting this condition. This condition, also known as Norwegian scabies is very contagious and also hard to cure. Depending on the symptoms and severity of the condition, appropriate medications and creams are prescribed by medical professionals.
  4. Severe scratching can also lead to damaged and reddened skin, which in severe cases can start to bleed.
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