Can scabies kill you?

Are you currently suffering from an itchy rash that seems to be spreading all over your body? Have you Googled your symptoms and landed on scabies as the possible culprit? Before you start panicking, let’s answer the pressing question: can scabies kill you?

What is Scabies?

First things first, let’s define what scabies is. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scabies is a skin infestation caused by a tiny mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. These little buggers burrow into your skin and lay eggs, which leads to intense itching and a red rash.

The Mite’s Life Cycle

Now, let’s talk about this mite’s life cycle because it gets pretty gross (warning: not for the faint of heart). The female mites will burrow under our skin to lay three to four eggs per day. After hatching in about 21 days’ time, these baby mites reach adulthood in just two weeks (!) and begin laying their own eggs.

It doesn’t stop there – if left untreated (cough don’t be that person cough), those pesky adult female mites could live up to two months on us!

Bet ya didn’t know you had such adorable roommates living with ya – ew!

How is Scabies Contracted?

Okay cool – so we’ve established what it actually ‘is’. But how do people typically contract scabies? Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Close Contact: Skin-to-skin contact primarily through sexual activity or extended periods of intimacy
  • Sharing Clothes/Towels/Sports Gear: This should have been obvious before COVID…
  • Crowded Living Conditions: Note newly designed social distancing measures post-COVID.

So moral here kids – don’t be a close-talker, don’t share your stuff, and rent an entire island.

Symptoms of Scabies

Now that we know what it is & how to contract it – here’s a comprehensive list about “the feels” for ya:

  • Intense itching – yes just insert every fire emoji u can think of
  • A red rash with bumps or pimple-like irritations
  • Tiny skin burrows caused by the mite (these are usually too small to see with the naked eye)
  • Secondary infections from scratching

If you’re walking around digging into yourself all day looking like some sorta zombie ~ this probably explains why GASP (breaks character)!

Can scabies kill you?

Okay duh, we still have yet to answer whether or not scabies could potentially off ya. But before addressing that question let’s talk about scabicides (AKA treatment) and prevention methods.

Treatment

Scabicides come in different types and forms but essentially help eliminate those pesky little roommates living in our skin. Some common treatments include:

  • Permethrin Cream: applied topically
    • Sticky tip: follow up after 7 days for a second application to ensure elimination.
Potential Adverse Effects Success Rate
Rash 70%
Burning/Itching upon application

YIKES – seemed like everything has certain pros and cons these days unfortunately… so thinking maybe natural remedies? Not ideal folks:

No scientific research supports tea tree oil, neem oil or clove oil as effective treatments for S.scabiei infestations; however you’ll smell good AF!

Prevention

Since sharing really isn’t caring when it comes to scabies, here are some easy prevention methods:

-Limit close physical contact with others
-Avoid sharing clothing or linens
-Clean all bedding and clothing in hot water

Now drum roll please… The answer is NO! Scabies won’t kill ya!

Risks of Untreated Scabies & Complications

Though not life-threatening directly, untreated scabies can cause secondary bacterial infections which invoke red flags for individuals who have a weakened immune system. Here’s what could happen if left untreated (cracks knuckles):

  • Impetigo (please tell me that’s not Harry Potter Dark Arts language)
  • Cellulitis (aka skin infection on steroids)
  • Necrotizing Fasciitis (also known as FLESH-EATING DISEASE; shout out urban legends / childhood nightmares around this one)

So although scabies itself doesn’t pose any mortality risks – there’s always risk involved if left unchecked – hence why we’re here today kids.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion whilst separating ‘myth from fact’ regarding your various ailments – don’t scare yourself silly by Googling stuff about death over a rash caused by these mites. (:laughing:) Listen to the professionals (’cause you’re already kind of scratching like Scooby), refrain from passing along infestations like they’re friend codes from Pokémon, and remember that even infested furniture items should be removed during treatment.

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk!

Cheers,

Some Great Big Medical Wizard (not really but insert Dr.’s name here)

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