General Description and Location
Scabies, or Sarcoptes scabiei, are also commonly known as itch mites. Itch mites are tiny anthropoids that burrow into the skin of humans and animals. They are as equally parasitic to wild animals as domesticated ones. While different species of itch mites may be inclined to inhabit certain areas, they all tend to produce the same disturbing symptoms.
Typically, a scabies infection starts as soon as female mite comes into contact with a suitable host. At that point, the female will attach to the host with her teeth, as well as special scissor-like apparatus on the front legs. From there, the female will continue to burrow under the skin, lay eggs, and feed on blood from the host. Once the eggs hatch, they larvae will continue to spread out under the skin. In most cases, eggs hatch in 3 – 10 days, and then live for another 3 – 4 weeks.
Problems for Humans and Animals
When a human or animal becomes infested with scabies, the condition is often referred to as mange. Since Scabies cause severe itching at night, many people scratch their skin to the point where it does serious damage. At that point, it becomes fairly easy for bacterial and fungal infections to set in. Needless to say, this can complicate recovery, as well as lead to more misery.
Interestingly enough, it is estimated that at least 2% of the people in Great Britain have scabies. For the most part, these infestations start in the wrists and hands. No matter where you live in the world, it is best to avoid skin-to-skin contact with these surfaces in order to avoid attracting scabies.
Most animals with fur will lose all of their hair in the infected region, as well as experience intense itching and redness. In many cases, chickens and other domestic fowls will also develop “scaly legs” when infested with itch mites. Today, pigs are often the most common carriers of itch mites. Even though the life cycle for this particular parasite is fairly short, it can cause serious damage when it spreads throughout a herd of animals.
As a general rule of thumb, the best cure for scabies is avoidance. Unfortunately, these parasites are highly contagious even before an outbreak is apparent in any given person. If you become infested with scabies, you should do what you can to make sure that every person you have had physical contact with also gets treatment. Even though scabies is not considered a disease caused by poor hygiene, you will be well served by washing all of your garments and bedding on the “hot” cycle. Since itch mites cannot live more than 48 hours without a host, you will need to store items for at least that long after washing. It is also very important to shampoo carpets and any other area where the mites may burrow for warmth until a suitable host comes along.
Many people looking for a home remedy for scabies rely on turmeric and neem oil. As with other insecticides, neem oil interferes with the estrogen receptors in target organisms. In order to use this particular remedy, you will need to bathe in it, and add some oats to the mix. Turmeric can also be added to the bath for enhancement. If this method does not work, you can ask your doctor for a cream or ointment that contains permethrin.
Scabies outbreaks can occur in any facility where people are in close contact with each other. In the United States alone, there are currently outbreaks in various nursing homes and schools in Virginia, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Additional outbreaks are expected throughout the country.