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Norwegian Scabies (Crusted Scabies)

This pages focuses on Norwegian scabies (crusted scabies) - the signs, symptoms, and diagnosis of this form of scabies in humans.

Also known as crusted scabies, this form of scabies is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, the same mite that causes the regular scabies. The condition got its name because it was first described in Norway in the mid-19th century.

So what is the difference between regular scabies and Norwegian scabies? The latter is simply is a severe form of scabies. If you are infected with crusted scabies, the number of mites on your body increases dramatically. A person with regular scabies may have around 10 to 20 mites at a time on the body. However, a person infected with crusted scabies may have thousands to even millions of mites on the body!

Another difference between regular scabies and crusted scabies lies in the host. The host of crusted scabies usually has a compromised immune system. Thus, crusted scabies is observed most frequently in the elderly, those who are mentally or physically disabled, and in patients with AIDS, lymphoma, or other conditions that weaken the immune systems.

Signs and Symptoms of Norwegian Scabies

Crusted scabies typically causes more severe skin manifestations, but interestingly, the itching may be minimal or absent in this form of scabies.

A person with crusted scabies develops an extensive rash which may spread all over the body. The rash is crusted with flakes of skin that fall off from the affected parts of the body. The rash will then develop into lesions which eventually start looking like warts. Scabie mites can be found in these flakes of skin and, as a result, this condition is highly contagious.

Other signs and symptoms of crusted scabies include:
  • Blisters
  • Thickened crust on the skin
  • Redness
  • Thick, deformed nails
Common areas of the body that are affected include the scalp, palms, fingernails, elbows, knees, and soles of the feet.


Diagnosis of Norwegian Scabies

As this form of scabies sometimes resembles psoriasis, a diagnosis by a doctor is essential so that early proper treatment can be received.

A diagnosis is most commonly made by examining the skin to look for the characteristic burrows or rash. Skin scrapings will also be collected and viewed under a microscope to make a positive diagnosis by determining the presence of mites or their eggs.

Due to the highly contagious nature of scabies, if one family member has been infected, the entire household has to be treated even if they have not been infected. Wash clothing, bed linen and towels in hot water and dry on a hot setting.

Related Topics

What is Scabies
Natural Remedies for Scabies


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