Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by itch mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. This mite is very tiny, approx. 0.2 mm to 0.4 mm long, and can only be seen under a microscope. So, there’s no way to detect this microscopic mite with a normal eye. Scabies is not a result of poor hygiene, as it spreads from skin to skin contact from an infected person to a non-infested person. Therefore, it can occur in all races and social classes.
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How scabies is spread
Scabies is transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact; however, it can rarely spread by bedding, clothes or towels that have been contaminated by an infected person. But the mite cannot live without host body for more than 72 hours, so spreading scabies through non-living things is rare but it’s still risky.
Signs and symptoms
First signs of scabies are intense itching and red bumps formed on the skin, especially where there are folds, such as:
- between the fingers (see images)
- on the front of the wrists
- in the folds of the elbows, armpits, and buttocks
The scabies mites cause intense itching, especially at night due to thread-like ‘tunnels’ formed by mites into the skin. These are about 10 mm long and may be visible as grey lines in the skin, however, these lines are often difficult to detect.
Skin scrape is used to detect scabies mites under the skin. You cannot see these tiny mites through the naked skin, so it’s easier to detect them under a microscope.
The itching starts 2 to 6 weeks after infestation in individuals that are previously exposed to scabies. But if you’re ever exposed to scabies before, the itching will begin within 1 to 5 days.
Infectious period remains until the itch mites are destroyed completely. Nonetheless, you can even be infectious even before the signs of scabies begin to show up.
- Due to itching, scabies can be confused with other skin conditions. So, it’s better to consult a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. You should not go for the treatment yourself until your doctor diagnoses scabies after examining skin scraping for mites. This is mainly important for babies and pregnant women or people suffering from other skin diseases. A special treatment is needed for pregnant women, and babies under 12 months of age.
- Treatment involves the application of an insecticidal cream, lotion or solution as prescribed by a doctor. Dr. Scabies is one natural cream to treat scabies without any side effects. However, you need to check the detailed information on what you should do and how you must apply this scabies cream.
- People with scabies must avoid going to crowded places, as you’ll spread the mites to more people.
- Family members, as well as all people in close contact to the infested person, must be treated at the same time, even if there are no signs of scabies. This is because there are chances that it may spread to other people in your family. So, it’s better to treat all at the same time so that others don’t show scabies when the actual infested person is treated. This will further spread the mites in the family.
- The clothes, bedding and other personal belongings of the infested person must be cleaned thoroughly 72 hours prior to treatment. Clothes must be laundered using a hot wash cycle (above 50°C) to kill the mites.
- If items cannot be laundered or hot tumble dried, you can place them in a sealed plastic bag for 72 hours before reusing. This is because the itch mites cannot survive for more than 72 hours without the host body.