Scabies is a common and highly contagious skin condition caused by human scabies mites, which are microscopic, eight-legged creatures with round bodies that have infested humans and caused misery for around 2,500 years. It is spread by close physical contact, especially in overcrowded living conditions or during sexual contact, and occurs when the female mite burrows into the outer layer of skin to lay its eggs. When the larvae then hatch and grow into mites, the skin produces an allergic reaction and intense itching develops (usually 2-6 weeks after infestation), resulting in a rash of raised, pinkish-red spots that appear on the body and limbs. Scabies can affect people of any age but is most common in children and young adults. Your personal hygiene has no bearing on the condition, but like most conditions involving the dreaded louse or mite, you cannot simply wash them away. However, prescription or over-the-counter creams and lotions are available – but check with your GP.
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