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Doctors issue warning as Victorian disease surges in the UK

Doctors issue warning as Victorian disease surges in the UK

There's been a rise in cases

Doctors have warned about a rise in cases of scabies, with one saying the situation was an ‘absolute nightmare’.

The highly contagious skin infection is caused by mites and is spread through close skin contact, it results in an itchy rash.

The symptoms of scabies, according to the NHS, are ‘intense itching, especially at night’ and ‘a raised rash or spots’. The spots may be red in colour and you should be able to feel them.

The rash usually spreads across your whole body, apart from the head and neck. It often affects skin between the fingers, around the wrists, under the arms, and around the waist, groin and bottom.

It’s not a serious or dangerous condition but can be irritating and should be treated as soon as possible to stop it spreading.

However, doctors warned the Guardian that there are currently UK shortages of the two treatment options: permethrin and malathion, due to the rising cost of raw materials, the ongoing war in Ukraine and supply chain issues.

The rash can appear anywhere on the body.

This all means that doctors are unable to treat the condition quickly enough, causing scabies to spread.

The medics warned that outbreaks are on the rise in care homes and university halls of residence.

Prof Mabs Chowdhury, the president of the British Association of Dermatologists, told the Guardian: “The shortage of scabies treatments is something that urgently needs more attention. The public health calculation is not particularly complex – scabies spreads easily and if people aren’t treated, then it will continue to spread.

"Unfortunately, the consequences of treatment shortages are proving easy to ignore. There is very limited tracking of scabies cases and people are often embarrassed to talk about it.

Scabies is caused by tiny mites and is easily spread from person to person.
Getty stock image

“A major concern is scabies spreading in care homes, university halls of residence, and other communal living facilities. This makes treatment much more difficult. If even one person isn’t treated completely, everyone can be reinfected.

"Given the challenges in social care and the treatment shortages, public health bodies need to plan for outbreaks in care facilities.”

A survey carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists and the Guardian, found that eight of its nine regional representatives had seen an increase in scabies in their area in 2023, and that seven of the nine had reported shortages of treatment.

One doctor told the publication: “The lack of availability is likely leading to increased spread of infection, which again requires further scabetic treatment and increases strain on demand.”

Featured Image Credit: picryl/Getty

Topics: UK News, Health