Scabies is a parasitic infestation caused by Sarcoptes scabei mites which creates burrows under the skin and lead to severe itching all over the body. The mites can get transferred through close physical contact with a person suffering from scabies. Physical contact includes handshake, hug for prolonged period of time and also sexual contact. Sometimes, scabies can also be caused due to sharing belongings of the scabies patients especially if they are not disinfected.
Once the mites get transferred they create burrows to lay eggs and spread to other body parts. As the mites create burrows and grow in number, the itching gets worse especially at night. The lesions are first noticed at between the fingers, elbows, wrists, buttocks, or waist. Intense itching leads to scratching which can break the skin and result into secondary bacterial infections. As a result of which, you can experience redness, swelling, heat and pain.
Scabies can cause serious problems for people with weakened immune systems, such HIV or cancer sufferers. It can also cause complications for people with chronic illnesses, living in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, childcare facilities and nursing homes. In case the disease reaches a complicated stage then it may convert into a more contagious form of scabies called as crusted scabies.
Conventional treatment for Scabies
In case you experience intense itching and scratching all over the body then immediately visit your doctor before the mites increase in number. Your physician will do the scrap test or ink test to verify whether you have scabies or not. He may examine your skin scrapings under a microscope to determine the presence of mites or their eggs.
If he finds the mites present on your body he will prescribe you with permethrin as an initial treatment. Permethrin has to be applied for about 24 to 48 hours on a clean and dry skin and then washed off with water. This has to be done once in a week unless the doctor asks you to increase its usage. Make sure you apply the cream to all body parts from neck down to feet.
Other medicines prescribed for scabies treatment are lindane, malathion and crotamiton. But it is recommended not to use these medicines without the doctor’s prescription.
Lindane is known to cause dizziness or seizures in children so use it only when you are to remain at home for a day. All these topical creams or lotions have to be applied over the whole body, from the neck down and have to be left for at least eight to twelve hours. After that you can wash it in a shower or bath. But make sure you don’t go for a hot water bath while you are being treated for scabies. This can only make the itch worse.
Most of these medications are effective but you will have to be patient because it may take several weeks to get rid of the mites completely. Sometimes the physician may also prescribe some oral medications especially for people with compromised immune systems or resistant rashes. This helps to relieve intense itching.
It is recommended that a person suffering from scabies should be isolated till he fully recovers. This will speed up his recovery and also prevent outbreak of disease in other people. But still it is important to treat everyone else in the household to avoid scabies mites from infecting them.
Disinfecting the belongings of the patient has to be done daily. This includes washing and blowing drying on high heat clothes, handkerchiefs, pillow covers, bed sheets etc used during the day.