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Scabies, Bed Bugs, & Lice

What are scabies, bed bugs, and lice?

Scabies, bed bugs, and lice are all parasites that live in, on or near a host organism and get their food from or at the expense of the host. Scabies is an infestation of the skin. Bed bugs primarily reside in clothing, bedding, and furniture. Lice are usually found on the scalp or hair follicle.

What are the signs and symptoms?

If an individual has never had parasites before, it may take 4-6 weeks for symptoms to appear.

  • Pimple-like rash that often presents in a line
  • Intense itching
  • Visual identification of mites

How are scabies, bed bugs, and lice spread?

Scabies and lice are usually spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has the parasite. A quick handshake or hug usually will not spread these parasites. The parasites can spread easily to sexual partners and household members and sometimes indirectly by sharing items such as clothing, towels, or bedding used by an infested person. Bed bugs do not live on the host but rather live in or near beds and other sleep areas. Bed bugs can be transmitted from place to place on luggage, furniture, clothing, pets, etc.

How do you prevent scabies, bed bugs, and lice?

The best way to prevent contact parasites is avoiding prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infested person or with items such as hats, combs, clothing, or bedding used by an infested person.

How do you diagnose and treat parasites?

A diagnosis of a scabies infestation is typically made based on the appearance and distribution of the rash and the presence of burrows. Lice and bed bugs are diagnosed when there is a visual confirmation of the bugs. Parasites are normally treated with a lotion prescribed by your doctor or over the counter ointments, depending on the parasite. Follow all directions given by your doctor and the labels of the prescription.