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Sarcoptic Mange in Humans

Sarcoptic Mange in Humans

Sarcoptic mange, an infectious skin disease that primarily affects domestic and wild animals, is a zoonosis, as it can naturally be transmitted to human beings. Know about this skin disease in greater detail in the following HealthHearty article.
Rahul Thadani
Last Updated: Mar 14, 2018
Sarcoptic mange, commonly known as canine scabies, is a disease that primarily affects dogs and puppies. The disease is extremely contagious. The parasite that causes this disease in dogs is known as Sarcoptes scabiei canis. Another strain, Sarcoptes scabiei var hominis, commonly known as scabies, is the cause of a severe skin disease called 'scabies' in humans. The parasites are very tiny microscopic mites that, upon contact with the surface of a dog's skin, cause a variety of skin problems ranging from hair loss to severe itching. These parasites have a very short life span. If the symptoms are detected at an early stage, the infection can be cured. The parasites are also found on many other animals, such as cats, pigs, horses, rats, sheep, coyotes, cougars, and bears. Their most common victims though are dogs.
Thee parasites are very tiny in size, and cannot be seen by the naked eye. They resemble spiders in their appearance, and spend about 3-4 weeks on the skin of their host. The female will burrow into the host's skin, and leave 3-5 eggs there, after the process of mating. The eggs take about 3-8 days to hatch, and if these parasites are not dealt with properly, this process will continue, and simultaneously cause much irritation to the host's skin.
As the mites are transmissible to humans, utmost care should be taken while handling infected pets. People with weak immune system, those who are being treated with immune-suppressants, toddlers, and young children should not be exposed to infected animals. People suffering from malnutrition are also at great risk for contracting this disease. However, as sarcoptic mites on humans are short-lived, it is easy to control the infection.
An Overview
It is well-known among the medical circle that there is a strain of the parasite that primarily affects dogs, and there is a separate strain that primarily affects human beings. The species that primarily attacks dogs can also temporarily affect human beings, but not for a very long period. This particular parasite cannot survive on the human skin, and soon dies (within 2-3 weeks).
It would be naive on the part of a dog owner to believe that he/she cannot contract this disease from his/her dogs. Even if the dogs are affected by the dog sarcoptic mites, if they are not cured of the disease, the owner will continue to be infected by a new supply of the mites, and the itching will not disappear. The infection can spread from person to person.
Symptoms
  • The classic and unmistakable symptoms are excessive itching and a uniform red bumpy rash, especially on the arms or midriff (trunk). This is due to an allergic reaction to the presence of the mites, and as a result of their bites. A rash may develop as a result of the response of the immune system, and may be seen even in areas, where there are no mites.
  • Usually, the lesions are seen on the forearms, lower chest, abdomen, thighs, and other areas which are exposed to mites. However, the infestation is self-limiting, as generally, the mites do not thrive on human skin, and die within two-three weeks. So, how to get rid of sarcoptic mange in humans should not be a big issue. The infection can be cured with corticosteroid creams and oral medication.
  • Small papules that look like insect bites can be seen. These pimple-like papules are often found in the nooks and crevasses of the human body.
  • Another symptom is excessive itching that occurs mostly at night.
  • Many times, due to the constant itching and the presence of the rashes, a secondary infection is also developed on the surface of the skin. This secondary infection is caused by certain pathogenic bacteria.
Sarcoptic Mange Treatment for Humans
Let your doctor evaluate the symptoms. Only a doctor will be able to rule out the possibility of other skin conditions. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can help control the disease. Here are some medicines that are helpful in treating sarcoptic mange in humans.
  • Permethrin 5% is the best cure for severe sarcoptic mange. It kills the mites on the surface of the skin, and helps reduce itching and irritation. A single application of this cream is enough to cure the disease. It must be left on the body for at least 15 hours at a stretch. Follow the instructions on the label and those given by your doctor, as extended use of the cream could cause harmful side effects.
  • Malathion is another popular remedy for this disease. It needs to stay on the body for about 24 hours to stay effective.
  • Lindane is an ointment that is recommended for patients who have not been cured by the use of Permethrin 5%.
  • Crotamiton is an ointment that does not cure the disease, but provides some much-needed relief from the itching sensation.
  • Neem oil is also said to be very effective in treating this disease, but there are no scientific backings to the effectiveness of this antidote.
  • The doctor may prescribe an oral anti-parisitic medication such as ivermectin. When consumed in proper doses, it will make your skin a less desirable environment for the mites. It will kill them internally. However, to prevent undesirable side effects of the medicine, you should follow the instructions regarding the dosage and duration strictly.
This is a very old disease, and has been around for many many years. Hence, there are effective cures available against sarcoptic mange on people. Pet health is as important as the health of other family members. Young pets or pets that are immune-suppressed are most likely to contract severe diseases.
You should use gloves when handling an infected pet. You should wash your garments and sheets, in fact, all washable material, in a hot water washer cycle to kill any mites. In your home, at room temperature, these hardy mites can survive without a host for 1-6 days. It is better to discard the brushes, combs, collars, and the bedding of the affected animals. If one of the pets develops sarcoptic mange, all pets should be treated for it. Although humans are unlikely to develop full-blown scabies from this source, precautionary measures should be taken. Contracting this disease is a very unpleasant situation. Visit the doctor immediately if you notice any of the symptoms on your body or on your pet.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.