Background: Scabies is a public health problem. In France, this disease accounts for several hundred million consultations in primary care each year. The objectives of the present study (with reuse of data collected routinely in primary care) were to estimate the incidence of scabies in a general practice and to describe the corresponding patient population.
Methods: From January 2013 to June 2015, we conducted a real-life study of consultation data from a general practice in the Lille urban area of northern France. We estimated the incidence of scabies in the area, searched for factors that might influence disease occurrence and recurrence, and looked at how patients with scabies were managed.
Results: The study included 177 patients (96 women). The incidence of scabies was similar in males and females. The infection was more common in early childhood (regardless of the sex) and in women aged 40-50. Scabies occurred more frequently during the colder months (e.g. 12.4% of all cases were recorded in January). We did not observe any significant associations between scabies and immune conditions or pre-existing comorbidities. All patients received scabicides: 163 received a systemic treatment only (ivermectin), 10 received a local treatment only (8 for benzyl benzoate and 2 for piperonyl butoxide with esdepallethrine), and 3 received both systemic and local treatments. Scabies recurred in 42 patients (23.7%; within 60 days in 16 cases (9.04%)). The median [1st & 3rd quartiles] time interval between diagnosis and recurrence was 28 days [22.3; 36.3]. The recurrence rate appeared to be significantly higher in winter than in other seasons: 68.8% of the recurrences occurred in the winter (p=0.021). Age did not appear to be a risk factor for recurrence (p=0.63).
Conclusion: The present results show that scabies is now a common pathology in general practice and is most likely to affect children and young adults in urban areas. The age and sex distributions usually described are no longer relevant. Our results also emphasize the value of reusing data collected routinely data in primary care, which can open up exciting fields in medical research.