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Things to know about scabies

Eine Hand schreibt Scabies

© @ Michailpetrov96

Especially in connection with spending the night in strange beds, for example in a hotel, the fear of an infection with scabies is quite justified. Despite high hygienic standards, this disease has not been eradicated. But those who know the causes and background of the parasite infestation can better prevent infection.

What is scabies?

Scabies is also known as scabies and describes a disease of the human skin, as you can read in the Scabies Guide. The disease is caused by certain parasites. So-called scabies mites attack the upper layer of skin and dig into the skin with the help of small forceps. There they form tiny ducts where they can effectively protect themselves from various environmental influences. In this way, the tiny animals can even hide in chlorinated water when taking a bath or swimming. The disease occurs particularly frequently in the area of the toes and fingers, but many other areas of the human body can also be affected. Among others, the area of the armpits as well as the genital area have a particularly attractive effect on the parasites. One of the reasons for this is that these areas are shielded from the environment due to their location, thus protecting the animals. In very young children, scabies can occur all over the body and on the palms of the hands.

These symptoms are associated with scabies

Above all, severe itching with subsequent reddening of the skin is a clear indication of infestation by scabies mites. If you look closely, you can also see small nodules under the skin – these are about the size of a pinhead. These bulges are the above-mentioned mite ducts. By the way, the colloquial name scabies is due to the strong itching, which neither adults nor children can resist without medication. The diagnosis is not only made on the basis of the itching and redness, but also by detecting the mite eggs. Usually a tiny part of the skin is scratched off and examined under a microscope. If excrement balls or eggs are seen here, the diagnosis is certain: scabies.

Causes of scabies

Scabies is transmissible from person to person. This usually requires direct skin contact; in rare cases scabies is transmitted without contact. The mites need a lot of time to transfer to a new host. For this reason, it is usually not a problem if there has been brief and superficial contact with a person suffering from scabies. Very short touches are usually not sufficient to become infected. However, one cannot be sure, which is why the contact should be prevented if possible. Especially between parents and children as well as between educators and children scabies is transmitted quite quickly, as regular cuddling and hugging is a high risk factor. In general, scabies mites can only survive for a very short time without a suitable host. For this reason, discarded clothing or used towels only represent a very low risk of infection. However, even today many people still get infected with scabies because they have slept in a hotel bed. So, unless there is too much time between contamination and direct contact with a new host, the parasites can survive.

These factors favour the infection

In general, the worse the hygiene, the higher the risk of infection. For this reason, particularly cheap or unkempt accommodation always poses a high risk. Even a weak immune system can contribute to the development of scabies. This is especially true during a cold, in small children or in people with AIDS. Unfortunately, scabies also occurs in hospitals, as many people stay here in a small space. If you want to reduce the risk of contracting scabies, you should practice good personal hygiene and avoid staying in busy places.