Beware scabies in close-quarters living situations

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By WVUA23 Digital Reporter Sierra Fletcher

While it’s not often discussed alongside other, more prominent sexually transmitted diseases, scabies can and does spread just as, if not more frequently among close-quartered living spaces such as on college campuses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scabies is an invasion of the skin by a microscopic mite that burrows itself under the upper layer of the skin, where it then lives and eventually hatches its eggs.

Scabies is spread via skin-to-skin contact with another person who has scabies. The most common way to contract scabies is contracted is through sex, but just like head lice or bed bugs, you can also catch it by sharing clothes or sleeping in an infested bed.

Symptoms present in the form of a red rash alongside itching, and while it most often pops up on intimate areas it can also settle in spots like elbows, fingers, backs and feet.

Most often, you won’t know you have it until you go to the doctor to treat your rash and, surprise, it’s scabies.

“We actually don’t know how it started to spread and we don’t know where it began in all honestly, but we have been asked to just take precautions and be careful,” said a University of Alabama student who lives on campus.

Treatment is available through a doctor’s prescription, and the problem will clear up within a month after treatment begins. Mites can only survive two or three days without a host.

“Although scabies is contagious, they are treatable,” said a nurse at American Family Care. “Scabies can live on you for about one to two months on a person if not treated.”

Anyone living in close quarters with non-family members should consider taking extra precautions, including not sharing clothes or linens. If one household member contracts the mite, everyone should consider getting treatment.

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