If you have read about scabies or have experienced it, you’d know, it’s a highly contagious skin problem which cannot be diagnosed very easily. Diagnosing scabies is not an easy task because skin condition in scabies is very similar in appearance to other skin conditions such as eczema, bed bug bites and even psoriasis. Scabies is also difficult to diagnose since the Sarcorptes scabiei, the mite causing scabies is very small and it cannot be seen with naked eyes. The scabies mites take very long (even a couple of months) to appear and cause symptoms, which adds to the problem of diagnosing scabies easily. The only way to diagnose scabies yourself is to look for signs and symptoms, which include rashes, boils and intense itching.
When the scabies mites burrow deep under the skin, they cause allergy in the skin that result into boils, rashes and itch a lot. Intense itching, especially at bed time, is the biggest symptom that you have acquired scabies. The rashes and red bumps begin to appear between the fingers and toes, around the waist, between elbow and knees and can even appear in the genital region.
As said, it takes a long time 2-6 weeks before symptoms of scabies may show up in people. But ones the symptoms are evident, it’s important distance yourself from others in the family since scabies is a highly contagious disease and can spread through direct contact or by sharing belongings (clothing, bedding etc).
How to dermatologists diagnose scabies?
Dermatologists generally diagnose scabies by visual examination. They would scan the skin head to toe, but the examination may not always deliver the correct result so dermatologists carry out two diagnoses for full proof confirmation.
The two tests include:
- Ink test
In the ink test, dermatologist applies ink on a suspected area and washes it off with alcohol. If there are mite burrows on the skin, the ink will create a dark streak around the outline of burrow, which makes it easier for dermatologists to confirm scabies.
- Scraping test
In the scrapping test, dermatologist basically scraps off tiny part of the skin. The skin is then put under the microscope for examination. If the dermatologist is able to see scabies mites or their eggs under the microscope then they can confirm scabies confidently.
How dermatologists treat scabies?
Getting rid of the scabies mites from the skin is the only way to treat scabies effectively. Along with the infested person everyone who has been in close contact with him/her shall also undergo treatment for scabies.
Though topical scabies treatment creams are available over the counter and can be applied by all infested people neck down. But using creams without dermatologist prescription may not be advisable, since without proper diagnosis you may be treating the wrong ailment with incorrect medication.
Generally for normal scabies dermatologists may prescribe –
- 25% Benzyl benzoate lotion
- 10% Sulfur ointment.
- Dr Scabies cream
But when scabies worsens (especially when infested person is late to diagnose) stronger medication may be required for treatment. In worse cases, patients are prescribed with an oral drug called Ivermectin. The medication can be taken by kids and adults with any ailment.