Human scabies occurs due to the infestation caused by an itch mite, called Sarcoptes scabiei a.k.a Hominis. It is a microscopic mite which burrows into the upper layer of your skin to breed and lay eggs. The very first and prominent sign of scabies is intense itching that becomes worse during the night, as the mites are more active at nighttime.
The scabies mite can easily spread from an affected person to a non-affected one by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact. An infested person is able to spread scabies even if he/she has not experienced any symptoms yet.
Scabies is an annoying skin condition that exists worldwide and can affect people of all social classes and races. It is more likely to spread in crowded spaces where there are more chances of close body contact. Places like extended-care facilities, nursing homes, childcare centers, and prisons are some common places of scabies outbreaks
How do you get scabies?
Sexual transmission is one of the common modes of transmission of scabies, hence it is also considered a sexually transmitted disease. However, it is not the only way scabies can be spread. It can even spread by non-sexual transmission like prolonged skin-to-skin contact, or using infested bedding, and wearing infested clothing.
How long does it take before symptoms appear?
The female mites begin burrowing under the upper layer of your skin for laying eggs and breeding within a few hours. It takes about 10 days for the eggs to hatch and become adult mites within. The most evident sign of scabies is extreme itching, which appears approximately four weeks from the time of contact - as it takes time for sensitization of immature mites. In people who have not been affected with scabies before, it takes a few weeks up to two months to develop the symptoms. On the other hand, in people who have experienced scabies before, the signs may appear within two to three days of infestation.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
Apart from intense itching, the appearance of bumps or rashes is another common sign of scabies. Itching and rashes are likely to affect some common sites of the body, including:
- Between the fingers
- Shoulder blades
In children, scabies also appears on the face, head, and neck, but this is not seen in adults.
How is scabies diagnosed?
Scabies infestation is diagnosed by observing the presence of mites, eggs, and fecal matter (scybala) under the layers of your skin. For this, skin scrap needs to be examined under a microscope, as scabies mites are not visible to the naked human eye. Less than 10-15 mites are likely to appear on an infested person, who’s otherwise appearing healthy.
How is scabies treated?
Medications used to treat scabies are known as scabicides because they are used to kill scabies mites and their eggs. Scabicides are available on a doctor’s prescription. Some common topical creams used to treat scabies include Permethrin 5% cream, Dr. Scabies, etc. You need to apply any of these creams all over the body, following the instructions are given on the leaflet. It is recommended to consult your doctor before using any of these scabies treatment creams.
Scabicide lotion or cream needs to be applied to a clean body, after a cold shower. When treating infants and young children, scabicide cream or lotion needs to be applied even on their head, neck, face, and scalp along with the entire body. Besides using medicament, you need to thoroughly wash clothing, bed linens, and other fabrics used by the affected person.