Long-term Effects of Scabies

Even though scabies can usually be treated effectively and fairly quickly, there are cases when longer-term effects remain.  Because it can be confused with other conditions, or sometimes ignored if not too severe, it might go some time before being treated.  When that is the case, there is a bigger chance of experiencing long term effects.

Direct Effects

Since scabies is caused by the scabies mites burrowing under the skin, itching and irritation are the most common symptoms.  These tend to go away after treatment, but even when it is successful, it can take several weeks.  Some cases that are more severe or those that have been left untreated for too long might take several courses of treatment before being completely resolved.  In these instances, you could experience the itch and irritation for several months after first being diagnosed.

Although they are relatively rare, there are cases where the itching can go on for many months, or even a few years.  Sometimes this is simply the result of treatment not being completed correctly.  Or, it can be a situation where several members of a household are infected and keep passing it back and forth to each other because not everyone has been treated.  Likewise, if the house has not been thoroughly cleaned, the scabies can come back rather quickly, even if treatment has been otherwise effective.

There are also more severe types of scabies, like crusted or Norwegian scabies. These are scabies that cause more damage to the skin and are harder to get rid of. Scabies like this often require several courses of treatment, and sometimes need the attention of several kinds of medication at once, like a topical cream in conjunction with pills.

In some cases, you may not be aware of whom you got the scabies from in the first place, and so risk contracting them again through continued close contact with someone who has remained untreated.

Young children and infants are at particular risk of getting more severe forms of scabies.  Sometimes this manifests itself as a skin condition called acropustulosis, which can take several months to get rid of. Young children are also sometimes less likely to be diagnosed quickly and correctly, which means that eventual treatment will take longer to be effective. They are also more likely to have scabies above the neck, which is relatively rare among adults.

Secondary Effects

As if many months of itching weren’t bad enough, there are cases where scabies can lead to more serious conditions.  Probably the most common is the secondary skin infection.  This usually happens when the infected person scratches constantly, but doesn’t get treated. The scratched areas become increasingly irritated, sometimes turning into open sores. If dirt of any kind gets trapped there, an infection can develop rather rapidly. In cases like this, antibiotics are usually necessary.  Although scabies usually doesn’t result in permanent marking or scarring, an infection can increase the likelihood of this happening. For this reason, it’s especially important to seek treatment, and continue with it until the symptoms are completely gone.

Scabies that are especially severe or hard to get rid of can sometimes be an indicator of a more serious condition.  Many doctors will recommend an HIV if scabies don’t respond well to traditional treatments.  This is because someone with a compromised immune system will have trouble getting rid of even a mild parasitic infestation.  Recurring and severe scabies can indicate other auto immune conditions like lupus, Graves disease, Hashimoto’s Disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.  If you have a case of scabies that just doesn’t seem to be going away in spite of following a treatment regime exactly and repeatedly, you may want to discuss testing for some of these other conditions with your doctor.  There is a possibility you might already have some other, mild symptoms that don’t come to your attention until you contract something you can’t easily get rid of.

Unlike many other conditions, scabies doesn’t usually have too many serious long-term effects.  At worst, there are a minority of sufferers who seem to have a lot of trouble getting it to go away for good. Some people simply don’t respond well to traditional treatments, while others may find that they’ve overlooked some other reason for its recurrence.  There are of course, an even smaller number in whom scabies is an indicator of a far more serious condition. Sometimes, if that condition is successfully addressed, the scabies will go away as well.

In short, your best chance at having scabies be a short-lived experience is to get it diagnosed early and get it treated as soon as possible. If you can treat it before it becomes really serious, you stand a much better chance of getting rid of it quickly and permanently. If you follow your treatment regime exactly and do what you need to rid your environment of the scabies as well, you probably will never see it again.

Scabies usually doesn’t have any long term effects, but for a few people, it can be extremely hard to get rid of and may indicate a more serious condition.

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