Parasites are organisms that live off other living things. Humans are hosts to many parasites, which can live inside the body or on the skin. These parasites use the human body to get their nourishment and to reproduce, and in the bargain cause health problems to the infected human.
Skin parasites are found all over the world and many people suffer from skin parasite infection. For instance, around 6 to 12 million people around the world get head lice each year and in the United States, head lice is more common among school going children and those going to daycare centers.
There many different types of human skin parasites. However, the most common human skin parasites are lice, scabies and chiggers but this does not mean that there no other types infecting people.
Types of Human Skin Parasites:
- Head lice, also known as Pediculus humanus capitis medically, are six-legged parasites that live on the scalp. The lice lay whitish eggs known as nits, which hatch in around 7 days into nymphs. The nymphs in turn mature into adult lice in another 7 days. Head lice live on blood which they suck from the scalp. As the head lice bite the scalp, it leads to itching and this can cause sores because the infected person will scratch where the scalp is itching.
- Pubic lice, medically known as Phthirus pubis, are similar to head lice but these parasites live in pubic hair. Occasionally, they are known to infect beards, eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair in the armpits. They are more commonly referred to as crabs since they look very similar to them. Pubic lice cause severe itching, which is more pronounced at night since the lice bury their heads into the hair follicles to feed.
- Scabies is caused due to mites, which are medically known as Sarcoptes scabiei. The mites burrow superficially under the skin to lay eggs and feed. Scabies infection causes red bumps on the skin that look like pimples. Sometimes the burrows can be seen as wavy lines. Scabies occur more commonly between skin folds like the webbing between the fingers, inside the elbows or at the back of the knees.
- Chiggers are also mites that live in weeds and tall grass. The larvae grab on to the human body hair with their claws and then attach themselves to the skin. Here they feed on the skin cells. Chiggers cause severe itching and skin rash.
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