Local health authorities advised the public to first properly wash the clothes that were purchased from various establishments such as department or ‘ukay-ukay’ stores to ensure cleanliness and avoid contracting skin diseases like scabies.
Dr. Jennifer Joyce R. Pira, Medical Officer IV of the Cordillera office of the Department of Health (DOH-CAR), called on the public to avoid fitting unwashed clothes to ensure that they will not contract the said skin illness as what is best is for them to know the sizes of their clothes to be able to easily purchase them from the different stores.
Scabies is a skin infestation caused by sarcoptes scabiei where it has 2 variants such as the classic scabies crusted scabies.
She disclosed that classic scabies is more common characterized by intensely pruritic rashes, commonly found on fingers, wrist axillary and genital areas while the crusted scabies is considered the least common variant where the same occurs in immune-compromised individuals and characterized by heavy infestation, crusts, fissures and scales.
The medical officer claimed that scabies is one of the most common skin conditions where the country had 16.9 million incidents in 2019 or a prevalence of about 5 percent of the population.
According to her, scabies is more common in resource limited countries with the highest rates of infestations occurring in populations living in hot, crowded conditions with limited access to care.
Pira said that scabies occurs during prolonged skin to skin contact, sexual contact where the latter mode of transmission is most common to adults.
However, she clarified that scabies cannot be transmitted from animals to humans.
Pira advised the public to avoid direct to skin to skin contact or sexual contact with an infected person, avoid skin to skin contact with the clothing or bedding of an infected person, thorough washing of clothing and bedding of an infected individual, thorough cleaning and vacuuming of the room used by patients with clustered scabies and environmental management is an important part to prevent them from contracting the said illness.
She explained that there is an outbreak of scabies when there are 2 or more epidemiologically linked cases of the illness in an 8-week period in closed settings where people live in close contact inside the setting and have limited contact to the wider community.
Pira said that once a single case is identified, all residents or staff should be assessed for scabies and that cases and close contacts should receive treatment at the same time. On the other hand, occupationally exposed staff should complete the first 24 hours of topical treatment before going back to work.
Pira underscored that appropriate referral to specialists, including dermatologists and infectious disease specialists, should be initiated where there is suspicion of crusted scabies, when the complications are severe or needing specific specialty care and when it is uncertain that the treatment has been completed successfully or the patient is not responding to treatment.
Other infection prevention and control measures include the use of personal protective equipment when caring for patients with scabies; the use of gloves and plastic aprons for most activities and gloves and single use long sleeved gowns for activity involving close personal care.