Scabies is caused by tiny itch mites that are transmitted by prolonged skin-to-skin contact between an affected person and a non-infested individual. The intense scabies itching is caused by the body’s allergic reaction to mites, their eggs, and excreta.
The adult female mite is of the size of a needlepoint, and barely visible to the naked human eye. When a female itch mite lands on a host body, she begins burrowing under the outer layer of the skin to lay eggs, breed and excrete. This itch mite is able to extend burrows up to 1/4-inch horizontally underneath the skin surface.
How long does scabies last after treatment?
Scabies infestation is able to last until treated with proper medication. Often, people are not even contagious after 24 hours of treatment. However, they are able to experience intense itching for up to 2 to 4 weeks even after treatment due to the presence of dead remains, like dead eggs, fecal matter of the itch mites.
Antihistamines are topical steroid creams that are used especially at night to get rid of the itching and other symptoms. Even antibiotics are recommended in some cases to relieve bacterial infections caused by scratching. But sometimes antibiotics are needed if scratching results in a bacterial infection. However, if the rashes and itching continue for longer than 2-4 weeks after the treatment, you must consult your doctor for re-examination and/or retreatment.
Who gets scabies?
Children are at higher risk of catching scabies, but anyone is likely to get them despite any race, age, caste, or religion. During scabies, you’ll experience intense itching, especially at night, along with the formation of rashes and red bumps on the skin.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
Extreme itching, especially at night, is the most common symptom. Soon after you start experiencing itching, you’ll also notice the presence of 1-2 mm raised red bumps that appear like small pimples. Occasionally, there are scaly, hives or blisters.
Another symptom of scabies is the presence of threadlike burrows under the skin. Scabies mites like to burrow in-between the web spaces of the fingers, the armpits, the creases of the wrists, the ankles, the genitals, the breasts, and the feet. They can occur anywhere on your body, except face and scalp. But in infants, even the face and scalp are affected.
Is scabies contagious?
Yes, scabies is highly contagious. These mites are spread directly from person to person with an extended duration of touch. Catching scabies from objects is very less common, but mites are able to live on clothing, bedding, and furniture for 48 to 72 hours. Therefore, washable items like clothing and bedding must be washed thoroughly in water and dried in a hot tumble dry. Non-washable items must be packed in a sealed plastic bag for around 7 to 10 days.
How is scabies diagnosed?
Scabies is often diagnosed by close examination of skin under the skin. Usually, a doctor can find out scabies just by looking at the condition of your skin. But if the symptoms have not developed completely, a skin scrap is taken for microscopic examination to see the presence of mites, their eggs, and burrows.
How is scabies treated?
Scabies is usually treated with the application of an anti-scabies cream like Permethrin 5% or Dr. Scabies. These topical creams are meant to be applied to all over your body down the neck area and left overnight and wash it off the next morning. Follow this procedure for up to 1 week to completely eradicate scabies mites. All family members, babysitters, and close physical contacts should be treated at the same time as the infected person.