In humans, scabies infection is caused by the itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei which burrows in the top most layers of the skin and lays eggs. This infection is most common in places where people have to live in close contact with each other like in dormitories, prisons, educational institutions. The scabies mite likes to live in the space between fingers, feet, wrists, armpits, ankles, genitals and groin area.
How does scabies spread?
The mite spreads through human contact through activities like sexual intercourse, sharing bedding of an infected person or skin-to-skin contact with the infected person for a prolonged time. If a person is infected with scabies in a family, chances are that others will also catch the infection if they touch the towel, bedding or things used by the patient.
Once the adult female mite lands on the new host’s skin, she burrows under the skin within 30 minutes. Each day the mite moves forward under the skin layer and lays eggs and leaves fecal droppings. These eggs hatch in 3-5 days and move through the burrows. They reach maturity in 2-3 weeks and mate with partners and females start a new burrow to lay more eggs. This spreads the infection even more.
If you have a pet at home who is carrying the itch mites, it can be spread from their too. Also, the infection can spread from animals to humans too.
If a person has 10-15 mites on the body, there are chances that the other person will get infected too by one or all of the means mentioned above. So, basically, scabies spreads through physical contact as the mites find a new home to lay their eggs.
Norwegian scabies (an advanced form of infection) is the most contagious as it can even spread through indirect contact. This is due to the high concentration of mites when a person is infected with the disease.
How to detect scabies?
Scabies infection is accompanied by the appearance of itchy rashes (1-2mm raised red bumps) which have burrow lines. This is due to the movement of itch mite underneath the top layer of skin. Once the initial signs are detected, the physical examination is required. To do this, the physician scraps the skin and looks for signs of scabies mite, its eggs or fecal matter which confirms the presence of infection.
The infestation is accompanied by intense itching during the night time when the mite moves in the skin.
The infection can last up to 8 weeks depending on the extremity of mite infestation. During this period the patient is contagious and susceptible to spreading itch mites to other people who come in close contact.
A cure for scabies infection
The infection can be treated by having good hygiene. Taking frequent baths with lukewarm water and cleaning the beddings, clothes and other things that have been touched by the patient. Other than that physician will prescribe medication based on the level of your infection. Mostly creams having 5 percent permethrin, oral dose of ivermectin are recommended by the experts.
One should also go for home remedies to kill the infection fast. These remedies include:
- Applying cayenne pepper to the skin topically kills the mites. You can also mix one cup cayenne to hot bath water and sit in it for some time.
- Apply neem oil to the affected area as it inhibits the growth of scabies mites.
- Clove oil acts as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent which cures scabies blisters and rashes. It also provides respite from the existing infection.
Applying rosemary oil or tea tree oil also heals the infections by killing scabies mite who cannot survive when exposed to them.