Understanding The Various Causes Of Scabies

By Alley Benton
Updated December 7, 2016
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Understanding The Various Causes Of ScabiesScabies is a very common skin condition. For a long time, it was believed to be linked to poor hygiene, but it is now known that this is not the case. Rather, it is caused by a parasitic mite, which is the Sarcoptes scabiei. This is a highly contagious parasite that has a life cycle that consists of eating your skin, laying eggs in it, and the eggs feeding off your skin to hatch. This process is repeated over and over again.

Understanding the Causes of Scabies:

Scabies is caused by an infestation of the scabies mite. But what causes this infestation, particularly if it is not poor hygiene? Because it is such a contagious parasite, there are actually multiple causes of scabies but they all involve direct contact with the infestation. This can be through skin to skin contact and by sharing clothes, bedding, towels, and so on.

The Causes of Scabies Symptoms:

The other thing to look into is what causes the symptoms of scabies. When people develop scabies, they experience intense itching. Scientists think that the immune system is triggered by the feces, eggs, and saliva of the mites, which is what causes the itching. To better understand this, you need to fully understand the life cycle of this particular mite:

1. A female mite lands on the skin and burrows into it.

2. Male mites move from burrow to burrow, mating with the females.

3. Once the male has mated, he dies.

4. The female lays eggs.

5. The eggs hatch after around three or four days.

6. The baby mites move to the skin's surface.

7. The new mites mature in between 10 and 15 days.

8. The cycle starts again.

If scabies is not properly treated, then this life cycle can continue forever. You cannot remove scabies mites with soap and hot water. You also can't simply scrub them off either.

The Spread of Scabies:

The scabies mite cannot jump or fly. It can only move, therefore, by direct, and often prolonged, physical contact. Hence, common transmission forms include holding hands for a long time with someone who has an infection, having sexual intercourse with someone who has an infection, and sharing bedding, towels, or clothes with someone who has an infection. Brief physical contact, like a hug or a handshake, is unlikely to infect someone.

A mite can survive without a host for between 24 and 36 hours. This is why it is possible for someone to be infected after contact with bed linen, towels, or clothes. However, this is actually quite rare, with the exception of couples, who also have other forms of repeated physical contact.

If you are in a confined environment, the risk of catching scabies is also increased. This includes locations such as nursing homes and schools. Here, people are in close physical proximity and contact, and the overall environment, which is usually warm, forms the ideal breeding ground for the parasite.

Scabies must be treated if the infection and life cycle are to be permanently stopped.

* Disclaimer:
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.