So what’s the best part about not having crusted scabies, Robert? “My brothers are glad I don’t wake them at night anymore!”
“I had this for a long time, as long as I can remember... I was itchy all the time,” says Robert. Despite this, he was only recently able to put a name to the condition he had - crusted scabies. 37-year-old Robert Munkara was recently admitted to hospital for a heart attack. Although the circumstances were unfortunate, this heart attack turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Robert. It was here at Darwin hospital that he was finally directed toward Jenny Jenkins, a One Disease nurse.
“I used to go to clinic and get cream, but it wouldn’t go away. The cream didn’t work.” Robert lived a very private life spending much of his time at home, covered up, because he didn’t want people to look at him. His two brothers who lived with him also suffered along with Robert as he was up most nights, itching and in pain. When Jenny was put in contact with Robert, she knew exactly what the problem was and how to deal with it. "I remember her face from Wurraminyanga. She’s from the Skin Mob, she make us understand about scabie bug,” says Robert. Jenny was a regular visitor to the community where she conducted skin screenings for simple scabies and liaised with the local clinic in search of crusted scabies patients.
Often these crusted scabies patients are isolated and hidden away in homes as they are embarrassed to go out. Sometimes, even locals don’t know whether these individuals live there, which makes it harder to find and treat them.
“I didn’t know I had crusted scabies… Jenny showed me pictures which helped me learn”. Jenny was one of the few regular visitors Robert had during his time at the hospital. Once he had recovered from his heart attack, she suggested he remain in hospital for two additional weeks so they could treat his crusted scabies. “I didn’t want to stay but Jenny said that it would go away and wouldn’t itch. She helped me get clothes, and books so I wasn’t bored”. Robert was pleased to see that within a week he was beginning to see his skin looking clearer. After one week, the itching had eased and he even managed to get a full night’s sleep - something he hadn’t had for many years. Now, Robert is back in the community and enjoys going out and about, proudly showing off his shiny, healthy skin. Jenny still visits Robert to make sure he continues to use his creams and looks after himself and has informed the local clinic to ensure Robert has his check-ups. So what’s the best part about not having crusted scabies? “My brothers are glad I don’t wake them at night anymore!” laughs Robert.