Scabies is an extremely itchy skin disorder caused by an infestation with a parasite- the scabies mite. The infectious mite lives on the skin and burrows into it. The infection spreads by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who is already infected by the disease. Scabies is spread to others through close skin-to-skin contact. But it can be easily treated with an insecticide lotion applied to the skin.
What is Scabies?
Scabies is a mite infestation of the skin. This is a contagious parasite that dig burrows in the skin of the person who has caught the infection. The female parasite hatch eggs into the skin, after three to eight days the eggs hatch and the young mites travel up the burrows to the skin surface. Once a female mite finishes laying her eggs, she spends the rest of her 2-month life span at the deep end of her tunnel. Mite tunnels may be visible in the skin of a person who has scabies, although intense scratching often distorts their appearance.
Scabies mites can be transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or by using clothing, blankets, sheets, towels or furniture that has been touched by the infected person's skin. Scabies easily spreads during the close physical contact. However, it can also be passed from person to person live in close quarters such as including hospitals day-care centers and residential areas. So, anyone in those areas can catch infection, so be careful and try not to make skin contact with infected person.
Here are some common symptoms of scabies:
Intense Itching – The itching actually become worse at night and it can involve any part of the skin, even the areas that don’t have any rashes or nodules. Itching is often severe and tends to be in one place at first, commonly on hands, and then spreads to other areas.
Mite Tunnels (burrows) - These are seen on skin as fine, dark, or silvery lines about 2-10 mm long. They most commonly occur in the loose skin areas between the fingers, inner surface of the wrists, and other areas.
Rash – The scabies rash also occurs on hands, between the fingers, skin folds such as wrists, knees, elbows, underarms, genitalia, etc. Rashes can also extend to the neck, head, palms and soles of the feet.
Red or brown nodules (larger skin bumps) – In some cases, person with scabies develops skin nodules rather than a rash. These nodules can be up to 5 millimeters wide, and usually occur on skin covered by clothing.
Does everyone who has had close contact with infested person need treatment?
Yes, people coming in close contact with infested person needs treatment. Scabies spread easily to sexual partners, as well as other who have prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the infested person. Treatment for members of the same household are also recommended. Everyone family members should be treated at the same time to prevent reinfestation. However, the re-treatment is also necessary if itching continues for more than 2-4 weeks after treatment or if new burrows or rash continue to appear.
Here are some of the important medications that must be given to the person, but make sure you consult your physician.
- Crotamiton cream or lotion: It has soothing qualities to relieve itch. Apply crotamiton 2-3 times a day for improving the condition.
- Hydrocortisone cream: This is a mild steroid cream to ease inflammation and relieve itching. It can be bought from the chemist or obtained by prescription. It can be applied once or twice a day for whole week.
- Antihistamine medicine cannot really ease the itching, but it can help you to sleep at night, when itching worsen. It may or may not be prescribed, so do consult a physician.