Scabies is a skin infestation that causes itching and is spreading throughout the UK due to mites. Due to shortages of the most common drugs used to treat scabies, dermatologists across the nation are reporting an increase in scabies cases. Vulnerable populations, such those residing in senior care institutions and other crowded settings, are disproportionately affected by these incidents.
Scabies is mostly an allergic reaction to the human itch mite, a subspecies of Sarcoptes scabiei; other subspecies infect other kinds of mammals. These minuscule arachnids burrow into our epidermis, where they reproduce, survive, and deposit eggs for the next generation. Scabies is primarily characterized by acute itching that tends to get worse at night and rashes that resemble pimples. Scabies often doesn’t result in serious sickness, but those with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to severe mite infestations, which can lead to crusted scabies, a more severe form of the condition.
Globally distributed scabies mites can infect humans through prolonged, direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual. However, within the past year, scabies cases have increased in the UK. According to a poll carried out by the Guardian on behalf of the British Association of Dermatologists, eight out of nine regions saw a rise in the number of cases of diagnosed scabies in 2023. Large scabies infestations have also been reported by local doctors in nursing homes, care facilities, and college dorms. One doctor told the press that the situation has turned into a “absolute nightmare.”
Permethrin 5% w/w cream and malathion liquid, two frontline topical treatments for scabies, are in short supply in the UK as a result of the surge in demand for scabies treatments throughout Europe. By early September 2023, these shortages had spread widely after being initially noted in May 2023. The British Association of Dermatologists issued a warning that same month, stating that the nation’s public health will suffer as a result of a “snowballing public health issue” due to the lack of treatment. Seven out of nine regions in the same poll reported shortages of the two medications.
According to the sources, supply chain problems, an increase in the price of raw materials, and the conflict in Ukraine are other causes of the scarcity.
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