Scabies on the increase in the UK possibly because of pseudo-resistance

This article is about animals because multicellular eukaryotic organisms are animals and mites are within that definition. They are parasitic invertebrates. They burrow under the skin causing a tunnel with a raised surface and develop into blisters that spread across the body.


The point of the article is that cases of scabies have risen “dramatically this winter” according to The Times newspaper. There is a fear that this Dickensian disease will become more prevalent. The experts think that it’s increase is due to what is called “pseudo-resistance”.

This refers to a failure by patients to fully comply with the instructions on how to treat scabies. Apparently, the typical treatment is a permethrin cream which is applied all over the body and therefore difficult to use. It needs to remain on the body of a 24-hours. It’s believed that patients are not fully complying with this demand and therefore it appears as if scabies has become resistant to permethrin when the real cause is a failure to treat properly. Permethrin is a rather nasty insecticide too which does not help in using it.

That’s the proposition. Experts are still looking into why cases are rising, however.

In September, the British Association of Dermatologists encouraged manufacturers to increase production of permethrin which is the first line of treatment. It was believed that low stocks of permethrin had contributed to what is regarded as a ‘major public health issue’.

The suggestion that low stocks of permethrin increased the prevalence of scabies was undermined when permethrin stocks increased but the prevalence of scabies carried on increasing.

Genuine drug resistance might be a factor. In November the rate of scabies was double the seasonal average. It stands at three cases per 100,000 people in the UK according to the Royal College of General Practitioners.

For the period 2018-2019 there were 1.4 cases per 100,000 people. And in the week beginning November 27 there were 484 cases at 500 GP practices in England and Wales. Over the same period in 2021 there were 56 while in 2022 there were 94.

Some more on parasites:

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Post Category: Parasites