I’m going to admit something: I have had scabies. And also headlice. Thankfully, not at the same time, but they are both horrible ailments in their own right. I got the scabies in college from a stereotypically hippie-esque box of unwashed free clothes. Sadly, I refused to admit that I might have scabies (a disease I associated with unwashed rednecks) until I had a comically disgusting full-body rash. Let me tell you, the itching from scabies is no joke! And the humility required to inform your sexual partner that you have probably given them scabies is also no joke.
I had headlice twice as a child, and once as a teenager (I got it from the kids I babysat). The awkwardness of confessing your scabies-infested status to a lover is not nearly as hard as telling your teenage friends that you may have given them all lice. And the tedious lice-combing is a form of torture in itself.
Why do I bring up all these traumtatic adolescent memories? Because I feel sorry for my patients that have scabies. Not only because I know firsthand that their itching is terrible, but also because the world is not very sympathetic to their plight. We have a lot of patients who have scabies, and the staff (including providers) can be pretty harsh. Yes, scabies is a contagious, parasitic illness. But it doesn’t mean that you need to make faces behind someone’s back or scream in horror when you hear that the patient that you just saw has it. Can’t we be a little more professional, people? As long as you don’t have extended skin-to-skin contact (which I never want to have with my patients anyway), you’re unlikely to get it.