Perfect time for another parasite
In the cold period of the year, the scabies mite is activated, which can be infected even after a few seconds of shaking hands.
– Once my father brought my son, a student, an athlete, to my reception. ‒ says Zhanna Prykhodko, a dermatologist and cosmetologist. ‒ He had dark streaks under his eyes, he looked extremely tired. For a month now, the patient has been suffering from itchy skin. The young man said: “Please prescribe some medicine, because life is already unpleasant. It is still tolerable during the day, and it itches unbearably in the evening and at night”. The patient was diagnosed with scabies.
– Is it true that scabies is a disease mainly of people with weakened immune systems and those who do not care about hygiene?
– No, strong, physically active, tidy people are also easily infected, ‒ says Zhanna Prykhodko. ‒ The causative agent is a microscopic (0.5 mm in size) scabies mite (itching). It is constantly present in the environment, and fertilized females parasitize, in fact, under the skin of humans, feed on it and lay eggs. Itching builds subcutaneous tunnels, hence the characteristic symptom of the disease ‒ unbearable itching. There are rashes, blisters, blood crusts on the skin …
Itching in patients with scabies often intensifies in the evening ‒ between 18.00 and 00.00, because then the tick is most active.
By the way, after the visit of this patient, a queue of his classmates, neighbors in the dormitory, was sought under my office. It was impossible to find out who infected whom. And it began, we can assume, with the fact that someone already infected with a tick, shook hands with a healthy person (a tick loves places in the folds of thin skin between the fingers).
– And what other ways of infection are known?
– Because of the clothes (if you wear a thing worn by a sick person), and in general, because of almost any bodily contact, ‒ says Olga Chudinova, an epidemiologist. ‒ Scabies is considered a “family disease” because it is impossible to avoid infecting people who live and sleep in the same room.
Children are often infected with cogrowing in gardens through shared toys (especially soft ones). It is enough for one sick child to appear for the whole group to get sick. For this reason, objects touched by a scabies patient should be disinfected. Clothes, linen, towels, soft toys should be washed at a temperature of 50 degrees and above (or boiled for ten minutes), ironed with steaming; furniture ‒ vacuum cleaner with steam. In a word, it is necessary to process all objects which the patient could touch.
– Why do they say that in winter is this disease particularly contagious?
– The cold season is the time when scabies mites are very fertile. This is facilitated by the fact that people wear warm clothes, under which a favorable environment for the reproduction of itching is formed.
– How is scabies treated and what is the danger of neglecting the disease?
– The tick itself will not disappear and will poison the life of the patient and his relatives. Scabies itches choose places where the stratum corneum of the epidermis is thinnest and this is the umbilical area, covering the legs, thighs, buttocks, genitals. As a result of scratching the skin, purulent complications can occur ‒ streptoderma, folliculitis, boils, eczema. Some complicated forms of scabies lead to hyperkeratosis, when the affected skin is covered with “shell”. As for treatment, there are modern highly effective drugs, thanks to which, under the supervision of a doctor, scabies can be cured in a few days.