Scabies is an easily spread skin condition caused by a mite known as the Sarcoptes scabiei. It is a common condition among the skin conditions which can cause severe itching. Scabies mites can be seen with a magnifying glass or microscope. The scabies mites crawl but are unable to fly or jump. They are immobile at temperatures below 20 C, although they may survive for prolonged periods at these temperatures. Scabies can affect anyone at any age (including a baby or child). Although scabies can be bothersome, the infestation can usually be treated effectively.
- Itching is one of the most common scabies symptoms. Intense itching occurs especially at night.
- Another hallmark of scabies is the appearance of track-like burrows in the skin. These raised lines are usually grayish-white or skin-colored.
- Skin rash is composed of small red bumps and blisters that affects specific areas of the body like wrist, elbow, armpit, nipple, penis, waist, buttocks and area between the fingers.
- Sores are caused by scratching
- Sores may get infected if left untreated.
- Crusts are seen in Norwegian scabies which is the severe type of scabies.
Norwegian scabies: Severe type of scabies which is seen commonly in immuno-compromised people with HIV/AIDS, people on chemotherapy etc.
Based upon the clinical symptoms your doctor will examine the area where it is infested in which mites or its eggs can be found. If they are not seen with naked eye your doctor may send the scrapings of the tissue in affected area for review under a microscope.
Scabies is contagious:
It is transmitted through direct physical contact. Holding hands for prolonged time, sexual intercourse, sharing clothes or bed sheets with the affected person will transmit scabies easily. We can commonly see such scenarios in schools, colleges, hostels, nursing homes, sports activity rooms etc.
Treatment and Prevention:
- It is highly recommended to consult a dermatologist if you have any of the above mentioned symptoms.
- For mild infestations your doctor will prescribe you topical ointments and lotions which you need to apply during night time when the mites are most active.
- Antihistamines are given to control the itching which is the main irritable symptom
- Must avoid taking over the counter medication because improper treatment can make the symptoms worse. Superimposed infection can occur too.
- In case of superimposed infection antibiotics are prescribed to control it.
- It can take upto 4 weeks to get rid of scabies. You may feel that your symptoms are worsening during 1st week of treatment but after that you can see your symptoms getting better.
- Post treatment scabies itch may be seen for 1 month in most of the cases which is normal.
- Persons in contact with the person who is having scabies also need to take treatment even if they don’t have symptoms for prevention.
- Wash bedsheets and the cloths used by the person in hot water.
- Vacuum clean the house regularly including rugs and carpets.