Scabies: the symptoms that should alert you

300 million. That's the number of people affected by scabies each year around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). How does this benign but contagious disease manifest itself? The point with a dermatologist.

Scabies is a fairly common infectious skin disease caused by an ectoparasite, an external parasite that lives on the body surface of a living being: the sarcopter. This parasite enters the epidermis, in which it digs tunnels, called furrows, which cause pruritus.

Contrary to popular belief that scabies only affects dirty people, this disease can affect everyone. These prejudices are due to the history of the disease, which appeared in the Middle Ages: at that time, there was no treatment against scabies, which became infected and led to complications.

Prolonged contact from human to human

Benign but contagious, scabies is spread by prolonged contact from human to human. Traveling and visiting places of passage can increase the risk of contamination. This disease can take many forms:

- typical or common scabies, which is the most common

- profuse and hyperkeratotic scabies, highly contagious, which often appears in immunocompromised individuals and may cause scabious nodules

- scabies called "clean people", which is observed in case of meticulous hygiene and which is characterized by slight signs

Nocturnal itching, furrows ...

The first symptom of scabies is a vesperal pruritus, that is, itchiness that persists and prevents sleep.

They are mainly located between the fingers, the maxillary level, on the blanks, or at the level of the genital area. In children, itching is more likely to occur in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

The furrows made by sarcoptes are also characteristic signs of scabies. In case of suspicion, a consultation with a dermatologist is required. With the help of a dermatoscope and a sample, the specialist can highlight the parasite.

How to treat scabies?

Several solutions exist to treat scabies, depending on age, comorbidities and contraindications.

Local treatment, benzyl benzoate (Ascabiol), may be prescribed. This lotion should be left for 24 hours and then applied again 8 days later.

A systemic treatment can also be prescribed: ivermectin (Stromectol). It must be taken twice, each take spaced a dozen days.

To avoid contamination, the whole family must be treated. It is also essential to wash all clothes and bed linen more than 60 degrees. When this is not possible, it is advisable to put the textile concerned in a bag, to pulverize a specific product there and to leave everything for at least 6 hours.

After treatment, residual itching may persist because the skeleton of the parasites is allergenic. In this case, corticosteroid treatment may be prescribed.

Thanks to Dr. Marc Perrussel, dermatologist and member of the Office of the National Union of Dermatologists.

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