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Scabies may cause uncontrollable itch

NUSKIRCHEN, Germany -- Scabies and the mites that cause them could be the source of an uncontrollable itch keeping a person awake at night, reports the German Professional Association of Dermatologists.

Even just a few mites can start the reaction, a representative, Wolfgang Lensing, said. Mite eggs and waste in the skin's sub corneous layer force the body to act defensively which manifests itself in an urge to itch.

Persistent scratching can cause inflammation and the sores can become infected with bacteria causing scabies-like problems. The most sensitive areas are folds of the skin, the genitals, spaces between the fingers and toes, the armpits and the navel.

The parasites feel especially at home in warm places such as beds and are often spread by prolonged contact with infected skin. People often contract the mites through intercourse. However, they can also be contracted from a bearer of the mites.

Transfer via clothing is possible, but rare, as the mites survive only briefly once away from a human body.

Normal bathing or dry cleaning clothes is not enough to get rid of them, says Lensing. Clothes must be disinfected and the scabies have to be treated both topically and with tablets.

Lensing notes that many well-groomed people refuse to consider that they might be suffering from scabies. But ignoring the problem allows the parasites to spread unhindered. If the symptoms go unnoticed for three to four weeks, a whole family can become infected.

In that case, you have to check everyone with whom you have had intimate contact. The parasites are especially good at nesting in dry, scaly skin or on children whose skin's defenses are underdeveloped.

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