Also Known As: Scabies, Body Lice, Lice - body
Scabies (from Latin: scabere, "to scratch"), known colloquially as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infection that occurs among humans and other animals. It has been classified by the WHO as a water-related disease. It is caused by a tiny and usually not directly visible parasite, the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrows under the host's skin, causing intense allergic itching. The infection in animals (caused by different but related mite species) is called sarcoptic mange.
The disease may be transmitted from objects but is most often transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, with a higher risk with prolonged contact. Initial infections require four to six weeks to become symptomatic. Reinfection, however, may manifest symptoms within as little as 24 hours. Because the symptoms are allergic, their delay in onset is often mirrored by a significant delay in relief after the parasites have been eradicated. Crusted scabies, formerly known as Norwegian scabies, is a more severe form of the infection often associated with immunosuppression.
The disease can be effectively treated with a number of medications. Permethrin cream is the most effective, but expensive compared to other treatments. Crotamiton is less effective, but also nontoxic and soothing. Ivermectin may be used orally and topically. Treatment with lindane preparations has fallen out of favor due to high toxicity and parasite resistance. In order to prevent re-infection, the host's contacts are also often treated.