What is Scabies?

Scabies can affect anyone in any part of the world if there is an infestation of the mite called the Sarcoptes scabiei on the skin. The mite will live and burrow in the skin, causing a maddening itchy rash.

How is Scabies Spread?
Scabies can be transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact and through infested furniture and bedding, because the mites can survive for up to 72 hours even without a human host. It’s most likely that an entire family can be affected by scabies because of the proximity of the members, and mites themselves can live in the human host for as long as two months. They can survive in both cold and humid conditions, that is why scabies isn’t just limited to one are in the world. There is a common misconception, however, that these mites can be acquired from pets, but the Sarcoptes scabiei is a human mite, and the mites on your dogs and cats cannot survive on human skin.

What are the Symptoms of Scabies?
Even after the home is infested with the mites, the symptoms will not show up for at least three weeks. The first symptom is an intense itch, which usually intensifies at night. This is followed by scabies rash which appear mostly on the skin covered by clothing and accessories. Therefore, you will usually see the rashes on the armpits, in between the toes and fingers, belt line, buttocks, genitals, and chest. Babies also get rashes on their head, neck, and soles. If the person has a weak immune system, the rashes can appear crusted. The lesions caused by the mites will also resemble symptoms of other diseases, that is why it’s important to get a proper diagnosis to get the right treatment.

How is Scabies Treated?
The doctor will have to take samples of the skin by scraping off the eggs and mites in the lesions and inspected under a dermoscope. When the mites have been identified, the doctor will prescribe a topical cream or ointment that must be applied on the affected areas and left overnight for at least 8 hours. There are also other topical medications that the doctor might prescribe depending on the severity of the symptoms, and antihistamines might be recommended to reduce itching. If the scabies rash for example covers a large part of the body, or if the scabies rash is crusted, it may be necessary to prescribe oral ivermectin. This is taken as a single dose and can be repeated after two weeks to see improvements. Finally, the doctor will ask the person to wash the bedding, linen, and furniture which might be infested with mites. It is recommended that the linen and other washable items be soaked in hot water or dried in high heat. Dry-cleaning can also get rid of the mites, because they cannot survive without a human host for 72 hours.

Comments are closed.