What are the causes of scabies and how can it be transmitted?
Scabies is a common illness that used to affect a large amount of people in the past, but now because most of the people respect society's hygiene rules and because the treatments are continuously improving, the number of scabies patients is decreasing.
Although scabies is not as common as it was once, there still are many cases of scabies among people, and once someone has it, it can spread very easily to others because it's pretty contagious.
The cause of scabies is a tiny 8-legged mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. This mite is so small that you need a magnifying glass to see it. It is attracted by the human body's smell and heat, and once it gets on the skin it starts to burrow until it reaches under its surface. They create tunnels in there and they start living inside these tunnels. The females also lay eggs in the skin, so once they establish they will soon spread. Sometimes if you look very careful you can see these tiny tunnels. The incubation period of scabies is a few weeks, so the symptoms only appear a few weeks after you get infected with the mites. However, you become contagious right after the infection, so you may have scabies and spread it and not even know about it.
The most common places where the mites prefer to live, and where the first symptoms appear are the hands and the feet.
How can scabies be spread to others? Well scabies is very contagious, it can be spread just by touching an infected person, or sleeping in the same bed with one. The mites can't jump, so you can not get scabies if you just sit near someone who has it, but you can get it if you share clothes because they can remain in the clothes that someone infected wore. They can live in the clothes or in sheets for four days before they die of starvation.
You can also spread scabies to other parts of your body by touching an infected area and then touching the other clean parts.
Dogs and cats can also have scabies, but the mites that cause animal scabies are different from the ones that cause human scabies, and they can't survive on the human skin for long, so you can't get the illness from an animal.
After the incubation period the symptoms appear. These are small, pimple-sized irritations that itch and that cover the whole infected area. The itching gets worse and worse as time passes, and the mites continue to multiply, and if you don't treat the scabies you may discover that you are infected with thousands of mites. So as soon as you see the first symptoms consult a doctor and begin the treatment.
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