Everything You Need to Know About Scabies

everything you need to know about scabies

Scabies is a skin disease caused by mites that burrow under the skin, transmitted from one person to another by close skin contact. It requires a prescription medication to clear.

Scabies is an infection that occurs due to a mite called the Sarcoptes scabiei. If it is not treated on time, then these microscopic mites may stay on your skin for several months. They usually reproduce on the surface of the skin before burrowing into it to laying their eggs. This can lead to a red and itchy rash appearing on the skin.

Though this is a highly contagious condition that can spread easily from one person to another through direct skin contact, scabies is not technically an STD. The infestation of mites can  be spread through infested bedding or clothing but initiate contact is not at all necessary.

Symptoms of scabies

After scabies are initially contracted, it might require near about six weeks for the symptoms to appear after treatment begins. The symptoms are found to develop faster in people who have had scabies in the past. Common sites for scabies symptoms in children and adults are the following:

  • wrist
  • waist
  • buttocks
  • elbow
  • nipple
  • armpit
  • penis
  • area between the fingers

Scabies in toddlers and babies as well as the elderly orimmunocompromised may include:

  • head
  • neck
  • hands
  • face
  • soles of the feet

The rash includes small bumps, bites and hives beneath the skin or pimple-like bumps.

Treatment for scabies

The treatment for scabies involves prescribed creams, lotions and ointments that can be applied directly onto the skin. There are also oral medications available for treating scabies at STD Check London.

Your doctor will instruct you on how to apply medicine, typically at night when mites are most active. You may have to treat all of your skin from the neck down and the medicine should be washed off the following morning. Make sure you follow the instructions of your doctor carefully and repeat the topical treatment for seven days. Some medicines for treating scabies are the following:

  • 5 percent permethrin cream
  • 10 percent sulfur ointment
  • 10 percent crotamiton cream
  • 25 percent benzyl benzoate lotion
  • 1 percentlindane lotion

Your doctor may even prescribe other medications to ease certain symptoms associated with scabies. Some of these medications are the following:

  • antibiotics to treat any secondary infections that might have develop ed due to scratching your skin
  • steroid creams to ease itching and swelling
  • antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or pramoxine lotion to control itching

There is an oral tablet called ivermectin (Stromectol) available for people who:

  • do not find any improvement in their symptoms after initial treatment
  • have scabies for covering most of their body
  • have crusted scabies

During the first week of the treatment, you might find that the symptoms are getting worse. But there will be less itching after the first week and you should be healed completely by the fourth week of the treatment. It is advised to consult with your doctor immediately in case you find that the symptoms continue even after four weeks of the treatment.

How scabies can be contagious

Scabies is contagious that may spread by the following ways:

  • prolonged skin-to-skin contact
  • intimate contact such as sexual intercourse
  • sharing bedding, towels or clothing that are used by others who have a scabies infection

Since scabies can spread through physical contact, the infestation can be passed to family members, friends, and sex partners easily. The infestation can also spread quickly in:

  • schools
  • nursing homes
  • prisons
  • rehab facilities
  • sports locker rooms

Different kinds of scabies

There is just one kind of mite that causes a scabies infestation. This mite is known asSarcoptes scabiei but these mites can cause different types of infestations.

Typical scabies – This infestation is most common that leads to itchy rash on your wrists, hands and other areas. However, it won’t affect your face or scalp.

Nodular scabies – This kind of scabies might occur due to itchy and raised lumps or bumps, especially in the armpits, groin or genital areas.

Norwegian scabies – Some people who have scabies might develop another form of scabies called Norwegian scabies or crusted scabies. This is a more severe type and people having crusted scabies develop thick crusts of skin that have thousands of eggs and mites. Crusted scabies may even appear:

  • gray
  • thick
  • easy to crumble when touched

Prevention of scabies

The best way to avoid getting scabies is to avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has already been infected. It is best to avoid unwashed bedding or clothing used by a person who has been infested with scabies.

Scabies mites may stay for at least three to four days after falling off your body and so, you need to take certain precautions for avoiding another infestation. Make sure to wash all of the below-mentioned things in hot at a temperature of 122°F (50°C)

  • clothing
  • pillows
  • bedding
  • towels

These items need to be dried properly in the dryer on very high heat for 10 to 30 minutes.

Who can get scabies?

Anyone can be affected with scabies as the mites don’t discriminate. Contracting mites does not have anything to do with your personal hygiene habits or how often you take shower.

People who stay in close and crowded environments such as college dormitories can also get scabies. This is because scabies is extremely contagious and can be transmitted easily via surfaces like furniture.

How to diagnose scabies

Your doctor will probably diagnose scabies by conducting a physical examination and then inspecting affected area of your skin. In some cases, your doctor might need to confirm the diagnosis by removing a mite from your skin with the help of a needle.

If a mite cannot be found easily, then your doctor will scrape off a small section of your skin for a tissue sample. This sample will be examined properly with a microscope in order to confirm presence of scabies mites or their eggs.

Scabies versus bed bugs

Scabies and bed bugs can feed off your body. Scabies are microscopic mites that burrow into the skin to live and lay eggs. Bed bugs generally come out at night to feed on your blood. They scurry away to your headboard, mattress or other soft nearby furniture and then hide.

A bed bug rash is usually just around the bite that might appear red and blotchy. Scabies presents as a more widespread problem with lumpy or scaly bumps. It is quite possible to treat scabies and bed bugs but both will require treating other people in your house and surroundings. Bed bugs are difficult to kill and you will have to call a professional exterminator to get the work done. On the other hand, scabies won’t survive for long without human contact.

How long scabies will last

Once treatment has begun, the mites will die within three to four days. If you are treating scabies, the itching and burning caused due to these rashes may last for several weeks after treatment begins. This is mainly because the eggs and mite waste remain in your skin even when mites are already dead.

Thus, when your skin grows new layers, you may still suffer from skin rashes and irritation.

How to prepare for your doctor’s appointment

You will have to arrange an appointment with your family doctor if you or your child has any signs and symptoms of scabies.

Read on to know for some information to get ready for the appointment and know what you can expect from the doctor.

Important information before starting with the treatment

Make a list of any signs or symptoms you or your child has had and for how long any of you are having them.

  • List any probable sources of infection like other family members who have had a skin rash in the past.
  • Write down any medical information such as health problems and names of medications you or your child is taking.
  • Write down questionsyou want to ask your doctor.

Check out some questions to ask your doctor related to scabies.

  • What is the probable cause of these signs and symptoms?
  • What treatment method do you generally suggest?
  • How soon can symptoms improve with treatment?
  • When should you visit the doctor to know if the treatment is working?
  • Are there any home remedies or self-care steps to ease these symptoms?
  • How contagious can you be and for how much time?
  • What are the steps to take for lessening the risk of infecting others?

What you can expect from your doctor

Your doctor will ask you certain questions and you should be willing to answer them honestly. Some of these questions are the following:

  • When did you first notice the signs and symptoms?
  • What signs and symptoms did you notice?
  • Have these signs and symptoms become worse in due course?
  • If you or your child has a rash, what parts of the body have been affected?
  • Has anyone else with whom you have close contact suffered from itch, rash or both in the past few weeks?
  • Are you pregnant at present?
  • Are you or is your child being treated at present or have you or your child been treated for other medical conditions?
  • What medications are you or your child are taking including prescription vitamins, and over-the-counter drugs and supplements?
  • Is your child in child care right now?