What Is Scabies?
Scabies is a not-so-nice skin infection caused by tiny mites called Sarcoptes scabiei. Once infected they reproduce, bury into the skin and lay eggs. This results in a red and itchy rash that can be super uncomfortable and difficult to deal with.
Myth 1 - Scabies Is Highly Contagious
This myth is only partly true. Scabies is contagious in that it's spread by close contact from person to person, but it's not classed as highly contagious. This means if you walk past someone on the street with the infection, you aren't very likely to catch it too.
Myth 2 - Scabies Only Happens In Children
Not true - the average prevalence of scabies infestations in the world is only around 5-10% in children. However, children and older people are thought to be the most vulnerable to the infection.
Myth 3 - Scabies Is Easy To Diagnose
This myth isn't true as there are many rashes that look like scabies. Scabies causes a red and itchy rash and can often be confused with many other skin problems. These are also common symptoms of many viral and fungal skin conditions as well as eczema.
Myth 4 - Scabies Treatments Are Quick
Annoyingly, this myth isn't always true. Scabies mites are very resilient and strong. As a result, they aren't very likely to go away as soon as you begin treating it and might take a few days or courses of treatment to completely clear. You can, however, use a soothing cream with antibacterial ingredients that will work to immediately reduce redness and itching symptoms.
Myth 5 - Scabies Is Always Itchy
This is another myth that isn't true. Whilst in the majority of cases the main symptom of a scabies infection is itching, it may not be the case for everyone so look out for other scabies symptoms too such as a red rash.
Myth 6 - Scabies Only Occurs In Those With Poor Hygiene
This is a common conception around scabies causes and is actually not at all true. Whilst countries with poorer hygiene and living conditions are seen to have more scabies outbreaks, you can have perfect hygiene levels and still become infected.
Myth 7 - Scabies Mites Can Live Forever
This myth is definitely not true. Without human contact, scabies mites can only live around 72 hours and on a person, they can live up to around 2 months.
Myth 8 - Scabies Mites Like Heat
This myth is true in a sense; scabies infections are the most common in hot and tropical climates; the top 4 countries with the biggest scabies burden are Indonesia, China, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu. However, the mites are thought to live for longer in colder conditions with higher humidity.
Myth 8 - Scabies Only Happens Once
Unfortunately, this isn't true. Scabies isn't like chickenpox and if you’ve had them once it doesn’t mean you can’t ever get them again. In fact, in many countries with a high scabies burden, recurrence is very high and is a massive problem.
Whilst scabies is never going to be a nice skin problem to deal with, hopefully, you'll now be able to separate the fact from the fiction regarding the many myths surrounding scabies. This can then help you to deal with the infection better and be more aware of what you can do to practice good scabies prevention.