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Scabies results when a small parasite infects the skin. The main symptom of the condition is extreme itching, which has earned this particular infection the nickname “seven-year-itch.” An advanced infection of this variety, caused by compromised immune systems, may go by the name of crusted scabies, or Norwegian scabies. Crusted skin and scaly rashes characterize this form of scabies. The disease is contagious, so any affected individuals should be treated, usually with topical creams.
Two primary symptoms indicate a potential scabies infection: itching and rash. If itching gets to a point where it becomes nearly unbearable and if it tends to worsen at night or during warm conditions, scabies may be to blame. The concurrent rash may occur in several areas, including the extremities, the back and buttocks, and the genital area. A tell-tale sign of a scabies-related rash is the presence of several small red insect-like bites, usually in rows or curled shapes. If an infant acquires scabies, the rash may take the form of pus-filled blisters on the hands or feet.
Most scabies infections will eventually clear up given treatment and time. In some cases, however, the condition only deteriorates into Norwegian scabies. Since the body’s natural immune system is largely responsible for combating scabies, individuals with an impaired immune system cannot properly fend off the infection. Children, the elderly, and patients with chronic immune deficiency disorders are most vulnerable to scabies acceleration.
All forms of scabies, including Norwegian scabies, begin after contact with a tiny mite: Sarcoptes scabiei. When this mite reaches the skin, it will create small burrows or tunnel-like areas in the skin, where it often lays eggs. This burrowing induces itching, while an allergy-like reaction to the mite causes the rash. Skin crevices, such as the bends in the legs and the ridges of knuckles, are particularly popular areas for burrowing. Scabies mites may be transmitted between individuals via skin-to-skin contact or through sharing personal items like bedding and towels.
When mite infestation continues to grow unabated, Norwegian scabies is usually the consequence. This specific form happens because the mites breed and continue to repopulate on the skin, sometimes in the thousands. As the mite population grows, infections spread over larger areas of the body. Rashes assume more of a scale-like appearance, and skin becomes severely crusted in later stages of the condition. Ironically, as Norwegian scabies worsens the condition of the skin, itching is relieved somewhat.
Pharmaceutical treatments are the most common means of treating Norwegian scabies. A solution applied to the skin known as permethrin is one of the most prominent pharmaceuticals of choice. In cases of Norwegian scabies, physicians often combine a topical solution with an orally administered medication called ivermectin. Applying treatment regimens to any potentially infected individual is important as a precautionary measure against transmission. Individuals with Norwegian scabies may also need treatments for any secondary infections that may have resulted because of the scabies, like bacterial attacks.