5 Common Skin Parasites

Scabies Mite

This parasite is miniscule -- about 0.02 inches in size, to be exact, but it can create damage many times bigger. Scabies mites are responsible for creating mange (also known as scabies) infection in humans, pets and other domesticated animals. They burrow under the skin to feed and lay eggs, and the body's reaction to this causes intense itching; a scaly, flaking rash; and thickened skin.

Scabies mites usually enter the skin through their hosts' hands or feet, but they are known to spread from there. While in residence in their new home, these parasites lay eggs that hatch within days. The new larvae then begin burrowing, growing and mating. In essence, multiple generations of scabies mites (each with a typical existence of a few months) can spend their entire life cycles beneath their host's skin.

If you don't want to be the new home of scabies mites and their offspring, learn to spot their presence so you can eliminate them. The mites, which are spread through contact with infected animals, people and their possessions, leave burrowing tracks. These can be hard to identify if you also have a lot of scratch marks, so rub the itchy area with ink then wipe it with alcohol -- the tracks will then show up.

Just as with the other skin parasites we've mentioned, you should remove scabies mites by disinfecting your environment and washing linens, fabrics and clothing in hot water. A doctor may prescribe an antiparasitic to treat your outbreak, especially if it's a severe form known as crusted scabies.

Keep reading for lots more information on parasites, pests and skin infections.

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