Scabies FAQ - What Are Norwegian Scabies?
Norwegian Scabies - Basic Facts
Scabies (Latin for scratch) or Crusted Scabies or Norwegian Scabies is an infectious dermatological condition commonly found in humans and animals (specifically called sarcoptic mange) which is also humorously known as the “seven year itch”. It is caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes Scabiei and the mode of infection is through direct or indirect physical contact.
Though the reference to Norway in the name is often misunderstood to some micro organism which originated from a place in Norway or which affects people from Norway, it is only a reference to the place where the condition was first reported in the 19th century. However, there is a minor difference between normal scabies and Norwegian scabies. The difference is in the form of parasites detected in those suffering from these conditions. While an average of 15 parasites is reported in case of regular scabies, it goes up to several thousands in a person infected with Norwegian scabies. This difference indicates the difference in the severity of the condition.
The Sarcoptes Scabiei mites are very small and transparent. Hence, they are not directly visible to the human eye and enter the human body by digging burrows in the skin. Since they propagate in a parasitic manner, they use the host’s body to survive and multiply. Once the mites enter the body, they first lay eggs and survive on the host’s blood. While the mites that cause regular and Norwegian versions are the same, the difference lies in the host’s immune system. People with weaker immunity are often prone to Norwegian scabies. However, if a person with a healthy immune system contracts the infection from a person infected with Norwegian scabies, he is likely to suffer from regular scabies and not Norwegian scabies.
The most defining symptom of scabies is intense itching sensation. Since the human body is allergic to the mites and their excretions, the body reacts by turning the skin red with blisters all over. In case of Norwegian scabies, the skin deteriorates faster compared to regular scabies.
Among adults, the most frequently affected areas are those which are warmer and have more moisture such as the space between the fingers, the waistline, the wrist, the elbow fold, abdominal regions, armpits, nipples, buttocks and genital organs. On the other hand, in infants and kids, it may appear on the scalp, face or the soles.
During the first infection, the symptoms take at least 10 days to show up on the infected skin. However, on people who have experienced the condition previously, the symptoms take less time to show up. Since the mites are present in large numbers on the infected people, these people are potentially contagious. And since the mites are transmitted through prolonged physical contact, infected people should be treated as soon as possible.
Fortunately, treatment is available for both regular and Norwegian scabies. However, the medication will be effective only after all the mites and their eggs in the blood are completely destroyed. Therefore, all prescribed drugs and medications should be administered for the prescribed duration to get rid of the parasites completely.