Scabies in the Netherlands: this itch is increasing

Are you being kept awake at night by itches? In the morning after, do you notice flakes and red bumps on your skin. It might just be possible you got an unwanted visitor, in the form of the itch mite, a pesky and tiny organism, which causes scabies, a condition which has become more common in the Netherlands.

The RIVM (National Institute for Health and Environment) has expressed concern that more and more cases of scabies have started to appear in the Netherlands, as reported by RTL Nieuws.

What causes scabies, in what circumstances and what can be done to treat it?

Scabies is caused by the itch mite, which in a very rude manner, decides to dig inside your skin and lay eggs there. Your skin then gets an allergic reaction, which explains the intense itching people experience, especially during night time. Thankfully, it is harmless, but it will definitely cause some intense annoyance.

Scabies is passed through skin contact, but also through other surfaces that might contain the itch mites, such as your bedsheets, or your couch.

The treatment given by the doctor usually involves a cream called Permethrin which is then applied to the affected areas. It’s also highly recommended that you wash your clothes and bedsheets and linen afterwards to remove any mites.

Cases of scabies have tripled in the Netherlands

The RIVM reports that in the last five years, scabies cases have tripled in number, and now there are tens of thousands of cases per year. The use of Permethrin, the cream used to treat scabies, has also doubled in the period between 2014 and 2018.

It is unclear as of now what has lead to the sharp increase in scabies cases, but the RIVM has set up a special working group to find an explanation, train doctors and dermatologists to better diagnose scabies, as well as to register any new cases.

Student houses and nursing homes report a lot of cases in the Netherlands

Scabies seems to be more widespread within student housing and nursing homes. This is especially problematic in nursing homes, as patients who have dementia can go unnoticed for weeks until the symptoms get noticed. Once an outbreak is recorded, it also takes a long time for the house or place to be cleaned until it is scabies-free.

Have you been feeling itchy lately? Let us (and your doctor) know in the comments!

Feature Image: NIAID/Flickr

Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad was born and raised in Brasov, Romania and came to the Hague to study. When he isn't spending time missing mountains or complaining about the lack of urban exploration locations in the Netherlands, you can find him writing at Dutch Review.

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