Ectoparasitic Sexually Transmitted Infection - C.I.P.H.I

Ectoparasitic Sexually Transmitted Infection

What is Ectoparasitic Sexually Transmitted Infection?

Ectoparasitic Infection is a communicable/contagious infection, that can easily be transmitted through sexual and common skin contact. Ectoparasitic Infection is caused by an infestation of Pediculus Pubis (pubic lice) and human mites. Some common examples of ectoparasites include fleas, lice, ticks, and mites. There are many types of Ectoparasitic infections, but here we are going to discuss only those which affect the genital area and can be transmitted through sexual activities. Ectoparasitic Sexually Transmitted Infection is of two types;

01. Pediculosis Pubis

Crabs (Pubic Lice) Picture Image on MedicineNet.com
Pubic Lice (larger than mites)

Pediculosis pubis (also known as “crabs” and “pubic lice”) is an infestation by the pubic louse, Pthirus pubis, a wingless insect which feeds on blood and lays its eggs (nits) on mainly pubic hair. Less commonly, the hair near the anus, armpit, beard, eyebrows, moustache, and eyelashes may be involved. It is usually acquired during sex, but can be spread via bedding, clothing and towels, and is more common in crowded conditions where there is close contact between people.

The main symptom is an intense itch in the groin, particularly at night. There may be some grey-blue discolouration at the feeding site, and eggs and lice may be visible. Scratch marks, crusting and scarring may be seen, and there may be signs of secondary bacterial infection.

02. Scabies

Pubic Mites (smaller than Lice in size)

Scabies is an infection caused by the infestation of human mites in pubic hair. Scabies also sometimes known as the seven-year itch) is a contagious skin infestation by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The most common symptoms are severe itchiness and a pimple-like rash. Occasionally, tiny burrows may appear on the skin. In a first-ever infection, the infected person usually develops symptoms within two to six weeks. During a second infection, symptoms may begin within 24 hours. These symptoms can be present across most of the body or just certain areas such as the wrists, between fingers, or along the waistline. The head may be affected, but this is typically only in young children. The itch is often worse at night. Scratching may cause skin breakdown and an additional bacterial infection in the skin.

Symptoms of Ectoparasitic Infection

The symptoms of an ectoparasitic infection vary depending on the type of parasite involved, but some common symptoms include:

  • Itching and scratching: This is a common symptom of ectoparasitic infections, as the parasites bite and feed on the host’s blood, causing an itchy reaction.
  • Skin irritation: Parasites can cause skin irritation, redness, and rashes, especially in areas where they are commonly found (such as the scalp for lice, or the lower legs for fleas).
  • Loss of hair or fur: In severe cases, ectoparasites can cause hair or fur loss, as the host may scratch and damage the skin.
  • Fatigue: Some ectoparasites, such as ticks, can transmit diseases that cause fatigue and weakness in the host.
  • Anaemia: Ectoparasites that feed on blood, such as fleas and ticks, can cause anemia, especially in animals or in people with weakened immune systems.

Causes of Ectoparasitic Infection

There are only two types of ectoparasitic infection that can be included in STIs. The rest of the ectoparasitic infections are caused by bed bugs, fleas, ticks, head lice, and head mites, which are not transmitted through sexual contact. Still, they are contagious and can transmit through other skin contacts.

The two sexually transmitted types of infections are caused by;

  1. Pediculosis pubis (also known as “crabs” and “pubic lice”) is an infestation by the pubic louse, Pthirus pubis, a wingless insect which feeds on blood and lays its eggs (nits) on mainly pubic hair.
  2. Scabies is an infection caused by the infestation of human mites in pubic hair. Scabies also sometimes known as the seven-year itch) is a contagious skin infestation by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei.

Treatment of Pediculosis pubis

Pediculosis pubis can easily be treated with good hygiene, care, and medications. The following methods can fully make you get rid of the condition;

  1. Medications: Over-the-counter or prescription medications such as permethrin lotion, pyrethrin shampoo, lindane lotion, and ivermectin pills are effective in treating pubic lice.
  2. Topical Treatments: These are creams, lotions, or shampoos that are applied directly to the affected area. They contain insecticides that kill lice and eggs.
  3. Combing: A fine-toothed comb can be used to remove lice and eggs from hair. This method is less effective than medication, but it can be used in combination with medication to speed up the process.
  4. Laundry: Clothing, bed linens, and towels used by the infected person should be washed in hot water and dried on high heat to kill any remaining lice or eggs.
  5. Environmental Cleaning: Vacuum the carpets, furniture, and any other items that may have come into contact with lice.
  6. Prevention: Avoid sharing combs, brushes, hats, and clothing with others. Avoid close contact with someone who has lice. Change your bed sheets and clothing regularly.

Treatment of Scabies

Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition that is caused by a microscopic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. It is typically treated with prescription medications, such as permethrin cream or lotion, ivermectin pills, or crotamiton cream or lotion. The following ways can help treat and eliminate the parasite ;

  1. Clean your skin: Before applying the medication, take a bath or shower to remove any dirt or oil from your skin.
  2. Apply medication: Apply the medication as directed by your doctor, usually over the entire body, including the scalp, neck, palms, and soles of the feet. Leave the medication on for the recommended time, usually 8-14 hours.
  3. Wash bedding and clothing: Wash all bedding, clothing, and towels used in the last three days in hot water and dry on high heat. Vacuum the home and car to remove any mites.
  4. Repeat treatment: Repeat the treatment in seven to ten days to kill any mites that may have hatched from eggs.
  5. Avoid close contact: Avoid close contact with others until your scabies have been treated to avoid spreading the mites.

It’s essential to follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment and to continue to use the medication as directed, even if your symptoms improve, to ensure that all mites are killed. If your symptoms persist or worsen after treatment, it’s important to see a doctor again.