Scabies is a skin infestation caused by microscopic mites called sarcoptes scabei. Scabies mites burrow into the skin and causes small red sores on the skin. The infestation is incredibly discomforting as it causes severe itching for the patient. The greatest concern with this infestation is that it is extremely contagious. However, taking proper precautions can prevent a person from contracting scabies from the infected environment.
The greatest concern
If a person in the household has contracted scabies, there are chances that everyone else living in the home will catch the infection as well. Besides this, it takes time to identify the symptoms of scabies in a person. By the time, the disease is diagnosed; it sometimes gets severe and becomes difficult to cure, such as Crusted Scabies.
By following a few simple and careful ways, one can reduce the chances of scabies infestation from others greatly.
If a person has scabies, immediately take them to a dermatologist and get him treated. Severe enough cases of scabies cause hospitalization, and it is impossible to treat scabies without medication.
Avoid contact with an infected person. Avoid visiting public place if you get to know about any infection prevailing there. Or if a coworker at the workplace has scabies, limit the meetings or encounters until scabies clears up completely.
Skin-to-skin contact with an affected individual can cause infestation in you too. Even a simple handshake, hug, or other quick physical gesture with a sufferer of crusted scabies can cause scabies in you. It is also spread from skin-to-skin contact between adults during sexual intercourse.
Make sure to wash hands and body regularly with lukewarm water and antiseptic soap to remove any mites that may have made contact with the skin.
Launder the linens and clothing of the infected person in hot, soapy water. This should include all the items used before diagnosis and during treatment. In addition to washing, these items should also be dried on high heat to kill any remaining mites. It is fine to have dry clean items laundered at the dry cleaner.
According to MayoClinic.com, scabies mites die if they do not get food in a week. Therefore, placing items such as pillows in a large plastic bag and tying a secure knot in the top is significant. Store these bags in an offset location for at least one week to kill any remaining mites.
When in doubt, try to identify the symptoms to diagnose their cause.
There are several symptoms of scabies ranging from minor to extreme. Knowing the symptoms won't help you much in avoiding the infestation, but they can help you know if you need to move on to curing them.
- Itching: Mainly the itching occurs at night. It is the most common symptom and can be so intense and irritating that it keeps the individual awake at night.
- Rashes: It appears as little bumps, in a line usually, and can look like tiny bites, or even pimples. The appearance of rash often confuses people with eczema and acne because of their similarities.
- Sores: These are caused when the patient scratches the skin on itching. After the sores have developed, the risk of infection greatly increases.
- Thick crusts on the skin: Often these are formed when a person gets severe type of scabies, such as crusted scabies. These crusts hold thousands of mites along with their eggs increasing the itch greatly, and making the rash more extreme, as well.
Household things that cannot be washed or laundered like mattresses, furniture, curtains, etc. should be cleaned thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner. After cleaning, keep the plastic bag in extreme sunlight or heat so as to kill the mites, if any. Environmental disinfestation using pesticides or fogs is unnecessary and is generally discouraged.