What is scabies?


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Know the basics

What is scabies?

Scabies is an itchy skin condition in which your skin is “under-attacked” by a tiny mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei. Their act of burrowing into the skin to lay eggs irritates the skin which will lead to intense itch and rash. Such microscopic mites can use your skin as their shelter for up to two months.

Scabies is considered as to be a contagious diseases it can spread quickly through direct physical contact

How common is scabies?

Scabies is a common disease since approximately 300 millions are recorded each year It can affect patients at any age, in regardless of their incomes, social levels and living situations. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of scabies?

After the initial exposure to scabies, it may take up to 6 weeks for you to notice the very first symptom. If you have history of scabies before, you are properly at risk of developing symptoms more quickly, about within a few days of exposure.

The common signs and symptoms of scabies are:

  • Intense iching, often severe and usually worse at night;
  • Pimple-like rash
  • Thin, irregular burrow tracks;
  • Tiny blisters or pimple-like bumps on your skin may appear as tiny raised or discolored lines;
  • Maybe having norwegian scabies or crusted scabies, with thick crusts of skin with thousands of mites and eggs can be found by microscope;
  • Thick, gray crusts and they crumble easily when touched.

In adults and older children, scabies is most often found:

  • Between fingers;
  • In armpits;
  • Around your waist;
  • Along the insides of wrists;
  • On your inner elbow;
  • On the soles of your feet;
  • Around breasts;
  • Around the male genital area;
  • On buttocks;
  • On knees;
  • On shoulder blades.

In infants and young children, they can have the diesease on:

  • Scalp;
  • Face;
  • Neck;
  • Palms of the hands;
  • Soles of the feet.

There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have signs and symptoms that may suggest scabies. The symptoms like itching and small bump on the skin of scabies are the same as other skin conditions such as dermatitis or eczema. With help of the doctor, you can know the exact cause and ensure that you receive proper treatment.

Know the causes

What causes scabies?

It is the eight-legged mite which can only be seen with microscopé that causes scabies in humans,. Their reproductive habit is to dig for a tunnel underneath your skin as they prepare for laying eggs. After the eggs hatch, the mite larvae move to the surface of your skin to grow up, then they can sread to other areas of your skin or to the skin of other people. The mites, theire eggs and their waste are the main cause that make you feel itching as an allergic reaction of your body to them.

If you have close physical contact and share clothing, towels or bedding with an infected person, the mites can spread to you and you can have the disease as a result.

You can also may have a temporary skin reaction from contact with the animal scabies mite. In fact, each species of mite sticks to their prefered host, so these types of mites will die soon if they cant found their suitable host.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for scabies?

You can increase your risk for scabies if:

  • You have weakened immune systems;
  • You use steroids or other treatments such as certain medications for rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Your direct skin contacts with someone who is infested;
  • You are undergoing chemotherapy.
  • You live with infected people or you live in areas with high prevalence of scabies.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is scabies diagnosed?

Your doctor diagnoses your scabies by conducting observation of your skin. They can look for signs of mites, including the characteristic burrows. Based on your symptoms along with asking you if you have any contact with infected person, the doctor can give the judgement. Having a scraping of your skin checked by a microscope can give the strongest proof of scrabies’ presence.

How is scabies treated?

To treat scabies, you need to remove the infestation with medications as they won’t go away on their own. Several creams and lotions are available with a doctor’s prescription. You usually apply the medication over all your body, from your neck down, and leave the medication on for at least eight hours.

Since scabies is easily to transmitt from person to person, it is highly recommended for all household members to get treatments as well to prevent the spread of mites, although no signs or symptoms of scabies infestation are noted.

You can receive the following topical creams to treat scabies:

  • Permethrin cream: this is a topical cream containg chemicals for killing scabies and their eggs. Adults, pregnant women and children ages 2 months and older can use this;
  • Benzyl benzoate lotion
  • Sulfur ointment;;
  • Cotamiton cream: you can apply it once a day for two days. If you use it frequently, it may be not effective. Children or women who are pregnant or nursing can’t use this;
  • Lindane lotion: it is prescribed for you in case the other treatments don’t help you with symptoms of you can’t apply other approved treatment. Children younger than age 2 years, women who are pregnant or nursing, the elderly, or anyone who weighs less than 110 pounds (50 kilograms) are not allowed to use this.

In addtion, Ivermectin – the oral medication is for people with altered immune systems, for people who have crusted scabies, or for people who don’t respond to the prescription lotions and creams.

Although these medications kill the mites promptly, but the itchy sensation may last for another few weeks. Other topical medications, such as sulfur compounded in petrolatum, for people who don’t respond to or can’t use these medications can be choosed for you to treat your disease as well.

Antihistamines can help with the allergic reaction. Steroid creams can also be prescribed for relief of itching.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage scabies?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with scabies:

  • Apply medication. This can help you relieve from itching;
  • Practice good hygiene. Do not share clothes, towels, etc.
  • Avoid physical contact with infected people.
  • Cool and soak your skin. Soaking in cool water or applying a cool, wet wash cloth to irritated areas of your skin may minimize itching;
  • Apply soothing lotion. Calamine lotion is an effective way to help you get relief from the pain and itching of minor skin irritations;
  • Clean carefully room used by infected patients. Wash their clothes with hot water and use a dryer with hot temperature to dry them for 10 – 30 minutes.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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