What happens when scabies goes untreated?

The microscopic Sarcoptesscabiei mite is the cause for scabies infection in humans. The female mite burrows under the host skin’s top layer and then move about within to lay eggs which hatch and cause even more infestation.

The condition is highlighted with intense itching (especially during nighttime) and appearance of red pimple-like rashes which are accompanied by thin lines originating from the rashes.  These fine grayish burrow lines originate from rashes and indicate the movement of the mite.

Since the scabies mite lays eggs under the host’s skin, the infection spreads if not treated in time. A patient of scabies can have an average of 12 mites, and if the condition is not treated, it can lead to crusted scabies which can have an infestation of thousands of mites in the host’s skin. This can also lead to bacterial infection and other complications.

Not treating the scabies infection can also put other people in close contact with the patient at risk.

First stage of untreated scabies

Under normal circumstances, the scabies rash appears after 2-6 weeks of the infestation. The rash is the result of immune system’s reaction to the itch mite’s proteins present in the skin. If scabies is not treated at this stage, the mites reproduce and then spread towards the unaffected areas. This leads to excessive itching and scratching that can lead to open wounds and puss.

Secondary stage

This becomes the breeding ground for secondary bacterial infections caused commonly by streptococcal or staphylococcal bacteria. This results in pain, warm sensation and relentless itching with puss oozing from the open sores.

Third stage of infection

The secondary stage symptoms are followed by fever, which happens when the bacterial infection spreads deep in the skin layers and tissues underneath. To treat this condition, antibiotics and anti-parasitic medications need to be administered.

Even worse, the systemic illness caused by untreated scabies can lead to partial or complete kidney damage which is the result of post-infectious glomerulonephritis (PIGN). In this extreme condition the kidney blood vessels inflammate, leading to bloody urine discharge and swelling.

Fourth stage

Untreated scabies also leads to bacterial infection in the bloodstream, a condition known as Septicaemia. The condition has symptoms including high fever, faster heartbeat, drop in blood pressure, sweating and decreased alertness. If it gets worse, the condition can be difficult to treat in the later stages. Patients may experience multiple organ failure and result in fatality.

Treatment of scabies

Keeping these in mind, scabies should be treated as soon as the doctor confirms the scabies infection. Depending on the severity of the infestation, creams, lotions or oral medications can be prescribed by the doctor.

OTC medicines

Permethrin cream is considered effective in killing scabies mite and their eggs. The creamis considered safe for children aged 2 months or more, making it the safest over-the-counter cream for treatment.

Lindane lotion is also recommended for people having scabies. The medication is prescribed for people aged more than 10 years. The cream is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.

For people who have advanced stage of scabies infection, particularly crusted scabies, Ivermectin oral medication is prescribed.

All these medications kill the scabies mites.Itching can persist for several weeks as mite protein and their fecal matter is present under the skin, to which the host’s immune system reacts to cause rashes.

Home remedies

This can be accompanied by home remedies like taking bath in water infused with antibacterialagents like neem, tea tree oil, love oil, neem, Aloe Vera, zinc or turmeric. These provide temporary relief from intense itching and prohibit the mite from spreading further in the body.

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