Last week, I wrote about my obsessions with the old movies. I know I am not a complete ancient dinosaur, I guess it was the mere feeling of nostalgia.

I remember watching the black and white P. Ramlee films on Friday nights, when the family glued to this gigantic television with the dials that can only tuned to two channels.

Although not understanding the real meanings behind the stories told, we were simply aspired to the lives of the silver screen.

I remember vividly being barred from watching Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell’s film adaptation of 1955 The Seven Year Itch, by George Axelrod.

I was intrigued and absorbed with the idea of this “itch that is so hard to scratch”.

I guess until today, like most men, I am still titillated and charmed by this idea.

“The seven-year itch” is a psychological term that suggests the declines of the happiness and passion in a relationship after seven years of marriage. Believe it or not, the phrase was originated as a name of an irritating and contagious skin complains, such as scabies.

In later years, the phrase was viewed as an expression of imagined appropriate punishment for antisocial behavior, or as a smile for a situation with a little hope in relief in early 20th century.

These days, the phrase has even expanded to indicate the dissatisfaction of working in a same full time job or living in the same house, where a decrease in satisfaction is often apparent over an interval of about seven years.

In reality, is there any truth the in “seven-year itch” rule when it comes to a relationship that will eventually lead to separations?

According to the National Centre for Health Statistic, the “seven-year rule” can be analysed quantitatively.

Apparently, most married couples experience a gradual decline in the quality of their marriage after the initial “honeymoon” period.

Around the seventh year, tensions will rise to a point of  “adaptation” or “separation” is witnessed.

In 1922, the median duration of marriage that ended in divorce was 6.6 years, and the median duration increased to 7.5 years in 1974. The median duration was recorded to be at 7.2 years and the average can fluctuate from year to year, but predominantly lingering close to the seven-year mark.

This week, we explore the management of physical and psychological itch, that haunt one reader, who is badly scratched by scabies.

Dear Dr. G,

I have a problem. My wife and I have been married for many years and we have a very loving relationship.

I am a salesman who travels away from home a lot. As you can imagine, the travelling and work can often get you down.

While travelling recently, I foolishly engaged in an activity that I was not proud of.

After coming home, I started getting rather itchy in the private part, especially around the pubic hair. I also started getting these pimple-like rashes.

The itch is worse at night and the scratches have now resulted in skin breakdown.

I went to see the doctor and he told me I have got scabies. Apparently, this is quite contagious and can be spread to my family members.

I really did not realize a small itch could land me such a big trouble. I am worried. Can you tell me what to do?


Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by a tiny mite that may burrow under the skin. The presence of the mite, Sarcoptes Scabiei may lead to intense itching and the compelling urge to scratch, especially at night. Such skin infestation is contagious and may spread quickly through close sexual contact.

It is also known to spread readily in a family, school classes and childcare group. The recommended treatment of scabies is usually the entire contact group.

The symptoms of scabies are predominantly itchy and irregular burrows tracks that typically appear on the skin folds, such as groin, buttocks and scrotum.

The eight-legged mites, usually female parasite, will deposit eggs under the skin. The larvae will eventually spread to other part of the skin surfaces or another person.

The vigorous scratching of the skin infested with scabies can result in secondary bacterial infection, such as impetigo.

The diagnosis of scabies is usually by the recognition of the rash. The microscopic confirmation of the mites from the scrapping is seldom necessary.

The treatment of scabies involves eliminating the infestation with medications. The application of the creams and lotion from head to toe is usually needed for at least eight hours. The bad news is, the doctor will likely to recommend treatment for all the household members even if they have no signs of infestation.

Sir Kingsley Amis, who was the English novelist and poet, once described as the “finest English comic novelist of the second half of the century” once said: “Sex is a momentary itch and love never let you go.”

I think to confess to John’s mischief in order to “cleanse” the scabies is the only way out of his itch.

To quote Yoko Ono: “marriage is difficult project. When seven years have passed and your body’s cells have replaced, you’re meant to experience that seven-year itch.”

John might just redeem himself from this itchy mess.

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