Fear of Scabies

Body itches can be caused by dry skin, an allergic reaction to something that was either touched or injested, or it could be the result of a tiny parasitic insect called scabies. While there are other potential causes for itching the fear of this insect is known as Scabiophobia.

The Centers for Disease Control describes scabies as, “an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). The adult female scabies mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin (epidermis) where they live and deposit their eggs. The microscopic scabies mite almost always is passed by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who already is infested. An infested person can spread scabies even if he or she has no symptoms. Humans are the source of infestation; animals do not spread human scabies.”

What Causes Scabiophobia?

This fear is often the result of obsessing about what may be crawling on our skin. A person who has this fear may find it hard to believe that any itch is the result of something other than this parasitic bug.

The obsession can be based on an observed trait in someone close to the individual or it could be caused by allowing the mind to constantly think about the potential of scabies infestation and coming to view the idea as a fate worse than death.

Another possible fear instiller is living through a scabies infestation. Many find the sensation less than comforting and upsetting. The mental trauma caused by the original outbreak can result in a long-term fear-based response to the original condition.

Symptoms of Scabiophobia

An individual who has this fear is likely to examine any rash and conclude it is scabies. They will sense great anxiety at every itch and may have nightmares about bugs that burrow into the skin. They may even be able to convince themselves that they itch even when there is no causal agent present.

Other symptoms include…

  • Air hunger
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Panic attack
  • An urge to flee
  • Weeping
  • Screaming

An individual with this fear may actually gain infections in their arms, legs or other body parts simply because they may be prone to itching based on the belief that they are or could be infested with scabies.

How to Overcome Scabiophobia

The Center for Disease Control indicates, “Scabies can be passed easily by an infested person to his or her household members and sexual partners. Scabies in adults frequently is sexually acquired.: They further indicate, “Scabies is a common condition found worldwide; it affects people of all races and social classes. Scabies can spread easily under crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is common. Institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks. Child care facilities also are a common site of scabies infestations.”

Knowledge like that found above can be helpful in knowing what circumstances are most likely to result in scabies and what conditions can be considered safe. Beyond this information a scabiophobe may benefit from visiting with a therapist who can evaluate their condition and offer solutions that can allow a less anxious future.

The fear of scabies is also referred to as:

  • Scabies fear
  • Scabiophobia
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