Scabies Transmission and Means of Preventing Infestation
Scabies, also popular under the name of “the human itch” is a highly contagious skin disorder caused by infection with scabies mites, microscopic infectious organisms that depend on human hosts (or animal hosts) to survive. Scabies can affect anyone, regardless of gender and age. However, the disease is more commonly seen in children, as they are more susceptible to acquiring the causative parasitic mites (by frequently interacting with other kids on the playground, in kindergarten and school, with domestic animals – especially furry animals, and with various insalubrious objects that might be contaminated with scabies mites, children are more likely to develop scabies than adults).
Although children are exposed to a higher risk of contracting scabies mites, they generally cope better with the disease than the elderly and persons with underlying immune system deficiencies (particularly AIDS patients). With the exception of infants and babies, (who generally develop more severe skin allergic reactions and lesions), children usually deal well with scabies mites infestation and their skin heals more rapidly after the mite infestation is completely eradicated.
Considering that scabies mites populate a wide variety of places in nature, it can be very difficult to efficiently prevent infestation. Proper hygiene may sometimes help get rid of the intruding mites soon after infestation, but can’t be considered an effective means of prevention. In more advanced stages of scabies (once scabies mites infest less exposed skin regions of the host’s body – feet, ankles, knees, elbows, armpits, lower abdomen and genitals – and manage to burrow into the skin, proper hygiene can sometimes slow down the progression of the disease but can’t get rid of the parasitic mites). The only possible way to prevent infestation with scabies mites is to avoid interaction with domestic animals and insalubrious objects, as well as individuals who show clear signs of scabies (rash, skin inflammation, blistery skin).
In adults, the most common ways of direct transmission of scabies are hand shake and sexual intercourse. Considering the fact that the genital areas are the perfect hideout for scabies mites, the parasitic organisms often populate these regions and can be easily transmitted to another person by sexual contact.
Another common means of scabies transmission is by contact with contaminated clothes and other personal items of persons affected by scabies. Scabies mites can live for a few days without a human host and during this period of time they look for shelter in hidden places. Human clothes, towels and various other items are the perfect hideout for the mites and thus they are often contaminated by the parasitic organisms until they find a suitable host. In order to avoid second infestation and the spreading of the mites to other persons, individuals afflicted by scabies should disinfect all potentially contaminated clothes by washing them in hot water. Personal items should also be properly cleaned.
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