Scabies

Information on the symptoms of bites from scabies mites such as itchy skin and rashes.

 

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  1. What is Scabies?
  2. Diagnosing Scabies
  3. Help for Scabies
  4. More Information on Scabies

What is Scabies?

Scabies is an itchy, contagious skin condition caused by the sacroptes scabei mite. The scabies mites burrows into the skin, lay their eggs and several days later, the eggs hatch and the mites start moving. The host is usually infected with between 10 and 20 mites. The most affected areas of the skin are the hands, wrists, knees, ankles, feet, nipples and male genitalia.

It causes intense itching and scratching, especially at night which results in a rash. Scabies is spread by direct skin to skin contact, and often develops through sexual contact. It can affect both children and adults.

If an individual develops scabies, it is most likely other household members as well as sexual partner will be infected. Scabies that infest animals and domestic pets fail to reproduce on humans and usually die within 3 or 4 days.

It is also common in congested and overcrowded areas such as hospitals, nursing facilities and facilities. Sometimes another form of scabies known as Norwegian scabies or crusted scabies may also develop. This condition often occurs in elderly people, those with weakened immune systems and neurological conditions.

The symptoms and signs of scabies include:

  • Red bumps or nodules on specific areas of the body such as between the fingers, on the wrists, back of the elbows, knees, around the waist, nipples, back and sides of the feet, genital area and buttocks
  • Intense itching and scratching

Diagnosing Scabies

Scabies is often misdiagnosed as it can often resemble a mosquito bite or tiny pimple. After a thorough physical examination, skin scrapings may be collected and viewed under a microscope to make a positive diagnosis.

Help for Scabies

Scabies is usually quite easy to treat. Your doctor will prescribe a mite killer in the form of a topical cream such as permethrin (Elmite) which is applied from the neck down. It is very important to follow the directions carefully. Another cream that may also be prescribed is lindane but only if other treatments have not worked – it has been known to cause serious side effects such as seizures.

Oral medications and antihistamines may also be prescribed to treat scabies and offer relief from itching. In addition, if one family member has been infected, the entire household has to be treated even if they have not been infected. Wash clothing, bed linen and towels in hot water and dry on a hot setting. Avoid sexual contact if you have been infected.

More Information on Scabies

How to prevent scabies

There are a number of things that you can do to prevent scabies and these include:

  • Practice good personal hygiene habits by washing your hands frequently before eating and after using the bathroom, take daily baths and showers and wear clean clothing.
  • Limit physical contact, particularly cuddling and sexual intercourse with people who have contracted scabies
  • If you or your child has been infected, notify all the people you have been in contact with, schools or day care facilities
  • Apply a cool, moist cloth on the irritated area to relieve itching brought on by scabies
  • Do not share personal items such as towels, toothbrushes, hair brushes or clothing with members of your household.
  • Wash all towels, bedding and clothing in hot water and dry them on a hot cycle if your family has been infected with scabies
  • Vacuum all rugs and carpets and clean all surfaces with disinfectant