Why cases of scabies concern specialists again when we thought they were forgotten

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Scabies is not one of those diseases that one expects to find in the newspapers today, but a recent statement of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV) has brought this disease into debate. In it they warn of the “significant increase in cases of scabies and the loss of effectiveness of the treatment.” This leads us to wonder what scabies is and why it is now worrying dermatologists and to what extent it should concern us.


What is scabies.
Scabies or scabies is a skin disease caused by a parasitethe mite Sarcoptes scabieispecifically the variant specialized in parasitizing humans (var. hominis). These mites lay their eggs under the skin, which hatch after three weeks, the disease being an allergic immune response to these microscopic animals.

It is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, so its contagion is common among members of the same family and people who live together. Patients can also be contagious before they have symptoms, which facilitates its transmission. Scabies is estimated to affect about 200 million people in the world.

It is not a serious disease, its usual symptoms are a skin rash accompanied by severe itching. Cristina Galván, dermatologist at the University Hospital of Móstoles, explains in the statement published by the AEDV that this has meant that the disease has never attracted great interest for research. The derived complications are usually caused by scratching, which can cause wounds that can in turn harbor infections.

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Why are dermatologists concerned now?
The AEDV statement has appeared in the context of the celebration of its 49th Congress. With many dermatological issues storming the news in recent months, the congress devoted special attention to the disease, with a session entitled ‘Scabies, what is happening?’. Apparently what’s been going on It has to do, according to the dermatologists themselves, with confinement. Although the initial intuition was that it would reduce the incidence of diseases such as scabies, the opposite has been confirmed.

In the words of the dermatologist member of the association Eliseo Martínez, “we have spent more time at home, maintaining greater daily contact between cohabitants; which may have favored the spread of scabies in those family units in which there was a member affected by the parasite. They also point out that the pandemic has caused a delay in both diagnosis and treatment, which implies a higher parasitic load and more chances of contagion.

Spain is not the only country that has experienced a increase in cases. The issue has also attracted the attention of researchers in countries such as Italy either Turkey. With a significant number of articles published on the subject. Perhaps more worrying is the fact that the upward trend had already been observed in Spain Y other places before the pandemic.

Loss of efficacy of treatments.
The increase in cases is not the only thing that worries dermatologists. Some treatments are losing effectiveness. In the words of Galván, “therapeutic failures in the face of validated treatments” are being observed. Martínez points out that the studies and experiences of dermatologists coincide in observing this phenomenon, although no particular study is cited in the statement.

Eliminate the stigma.
Faced with this problem, the need to intensify treatments and combine them to gain efficacy is pointed out. Of course, prevention is still key, going to the doctor to start treatment and being able to take the necessary precautions to avoid further infections is always key.

In this sense, eliminating the stigma associated with this disease is important, including some myths that dermatologists deny. This affects the relationship between the disease and hygiene habits. Neither body hygiene nor frequent washing of clothes affect the spread of this parasite, according to dermatologists. Nor are fitting rooms considered sources of transmission of this disease.

Cutaneous manifestations of vaccines.
The association also takes the opportunity to make some notes on the latest advances in the study of the dermatological effects of vaccines against Covid-19. In this case they refer to the study carried out in Spain in which it compiles information on 375 cases in which these side effects were observed, ranging from the most common such as hives and the “Covid arm”, mild as usual, to some more rare and serious as the recrudescence of dermatoses. They also point out that “females and younger people have more skin manifestations after immunization.”

Image | CDC

Scabies is not one of those diseases that one expects to find in the newspapers today, but a recent statement…

Scabies is not one of those diseases that one expects to find in the newspapers today, but a recent statement…

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