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Debunking The Myths Surrounding Scabies

Scabies is one of the most common dermatological conditions that affects over 200 million people around the world at any one time. As a result, there are now a variety of myths surrounding the infection, making it hard to know the truth. To help you out, we have divided fact from fiction and have debunked some of the most popular myths surrounding scabies.

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 is spread by close contact from person to person, but it is not classed as highly contagious. This means if you walk past someone on the street with the infection, you are not 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 is not 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 is not always true. Scabies mites are very resilient and strong. As a result, they are not 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 is not 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 is not true. Scabies is not 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.

Overview

Whilst scabies is never going to be a nice skin problem to deal with, hopefully, you will 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.

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