Saturday, May 21

Ibiza scabies, an epidemic behind the scenes

Patient with scabies lesions on the wrist and hand.

Patient with scabies lesions on the wrist and hand.
Ibiza newspaper

Scabies or scabies is a highly contagious parasitic skin infestation caused by the mite Sarcoptes Scabiei variety Hominis. Although traditionally it was considered a parasite typical of overcrowded areas or regions with poor sanitation, for a few years this small mite has roamed Ibizan homes.

Let us contribute some information to this dystopia. In the dermatology consultations of the Polyclinic Group during the months of September, October and November 2020 a total of 101 patients were diagnosed with scabies. This striking figure does not include cases diagnosed by the Can Misses Hospital dermatology service, nor scabies treated by family doctors or hospital emergencies as there are no records; which should make us reflect on the real magnitude of this problem. Another remarkable figure is that 67% of infections occurred in people under 18 years of age, with adolescents and children being the main Trojan horse, to the chagrin of the rest of the coexistence unit. Among the situations with the highest risk of contagion are the nights spent at friends’ houses and the exchanges of clothes, which remain stubborn customs among adolescents.

It all starts with close contact with the skin of an infected person or with Any item of clothing, towels, sheets or any fabric that you have used in the last 3-5 days. At that moment, the female of the mite clings to our skin and begins to carve a tunnel in its most superficial layer of between a few millimeters and two centimeters in length. After this, the female lays 2 to 3 eggs per day during an average life expectancy of 30 to 60 days. These eggs hatch on the fourth day and their larvae emerge to the surface to mature and reproduce, later generating new tunnels and so on. For the affected person, this process is imperceptible until the second or sixth week, when his immune system begins to react against the mite and its waste products, causing intense itching throughout the body that worsens at night. By then the infestation is already developed and has been able to infect the rest of the cohabitants.

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How do I know if I have scabies?

The most typical picture will be the presence of reddish dots or vesicles (small bubbles) that are very itchy in hands, wrists, arms, elbows, armpits, genital area or feet. This itching will be more intense at night, and may even prevent you from falling asleep.

What should I do?

In the event of any suspicion, the first thing to do is seek health care for diagnosis and treatment, the most common being 5% permethrin cream and oral ivermectin capsules. It will also be necessary to treat all cohabitants and close contacts such as friends, caregivers, girlfriends … These treatments must be repeated several times since mite eggs are resistant to it. In addition, we should clean daily at 60ºC all the garments used by the affected person and his family while the treatment lasts, which could last between two and 4 weeks in the best of cases, with its consequent effort, time and expenses of electricity and water associates. As a precaution, the affected person’s clothes should be washed separately from those of the rest of the family. In the case of delicate fabricsAs an alternative to washing, they could be isolated in plastic bags until the mite dies, which will last between three and seven days depending on the weather conditions (greater survival in humid and warm environments). Additionally, we could use sulfur soaps or green tea tree extract in the showers, which have acaricidal properties described, although their usefulness has not been demonstrated in quality clinical trials.

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In short, scabies is still very present today and can affect any citizen. We must demystify its origin incorrectly attributed to dust, dirt or animals. Once contracted, it is necessary to consult a doctor and follow treatment thoroughly, hygiene recommendations and avoid physical contact in social interaction. Leaving the shame aside, close contacts should be advised, as collaboration will be essential to stop the chain of contagion and eradicate the parasite. Cheers and good luck.

Did the dog infect me?

Human mange is transmitted between people, dogs have its own variety of scabies that does not reside on human skin. In principle, it would not be necessary to treat pets.

Can I go to school or the gym?

It is recommended to avoid attendance at classes or group activities where there is physical contact, at least until one day of treatment.

Can I go to a friend’s house?

It is not recommended to go to other homes or host people outside the coexistence unit until the treatment is finished.

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