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Scabies in genitals and groin


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Mite under electron microscope


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penile nodules

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What is it?

This is caused by a tiny little insect/mite. The female burrows into the skin laying 2 to 3 eggs per day which take about 10 days to turn into adult mites.

How does it show itself?

The mites concentrate in special sites. Many are found on the hands and wrists but can be found almost anywhere on the body especially in skin creases. Itching (especially at night) and raw broken skin (lesions) and lumps (nodules) may occur though this may be weeks after the initial contact.

Is it common?

Yes though epidemics break out from time to time. It is frequent in school-age children, but unlikely to be transmitted in schools.

How can you get it?

Close personal contact is usually involved. It is not unusual to find whole families or groups such as in nursing homes and hospitals with it. It can be passed on sexually but unlike other infections (such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia) that only require a short time of sexual contact to be passed on scabies is more likely to be transmitted when partners spend a lengthy period lying next to each other. It is not spread by towels, bedding or clothing and no special precautions need to be taken with these.

Can it be treated successfully?

Yes. A cure is easy to achieve. It involves covering the whole body with a liquid/lotion (such as derbac) which will kill both the mites and their eggs. It should be applied to clean dry cool skin and left on for 24 hours (1 day) and then washed off.

One treatment is normally all that is needed though any itching or rash may persist. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to advise you about getting an anti-irritant cream such as calamine lotion.

Always re-apply the lotion to the hands after washing during the treatment period.

Anything else?

Yes. It is vital that any close contacts including sexual partners are treated at the same time even if they do not show any signs of it being present. It may also be necessary to inform recent previous sexual partners of their need to have a check-up.

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