An infestation by a tiny, eight-legged burrowing mite known as Sarcoptes scabies is called scabies. The scabies mite burrows into the skin and lays eggs which leads towards tiny blisters and bumps. This does not stop at this but causes intense itching in its existing area and the urge to scratch reaches at peak during night.
The mite that causes scabies is invisible to the naked eye but can be seen with the help of microscope or magnifying glass. Scabies is contagious in nature and can spread itself quickly through the close physical contact of the healthy person with the infected one.
The microscopic female mite called as Sarcoptes scabies burrows under the skin and creates a tunnel in which it lays its eggs. In 21 days the eggs are matured and the new born mites make their way to the skin where they can be full-grown and can extend themselves to the other areas of the skin. The allergic reaction of the body to these mites, their eggs and the discharged waste by them result in itching.
Mostly the way of spreading scabies is having a close and prolonged skin-to-skin contact of a healthy individual with an infected human being who carries the mites. Less common channel of the transmission of disease is sharing of bed or clothes.
As scabies attacks both the humans and animals so, it is often considered that it can be spread through cats and dogs. Animals are infected by the species of the scabies which is different from those that invade humans. If somehow, animal’s scabies land on human skin it fails to be thrived and can be resulted into slight itching which goes away soon. Unlike human scabies it cannot stay longer and become worse unless it is properly treated.
Scabies Symptoms or Signs of Appearance
Scabies attack specific areas of the body and produce tiny blisters and bumps having red color. The targeting areas of scabies may involve the wrists and the back of the elbows, the armpits, the webs between the fingers, the knees, around the waist and umbilicus, the areas around the nipples, the axillary folds, the sides and back of the feet, the genital area, and the buttocks. Ever bump is a bug which cannot be seen with the naked eye.
The most common symptom of scabies is itching which has insidious and relentless nature. Itching usually becomes worse at night. In the first weeks, it is subtle but later on it turns into intense itch which make it impossible to sleep after a month or two.
To get rid of scabies and eliminate its manifestation, medication is given in the form of creams or lotions which kill the mites. 5% permethrin cream (Elimite) or Acticin are commonly used medications to cure scabies. Its use is as safe as it is recommended to even the children of two months. There is also an older medication known as lindane (kwell) which is used rarely in children because of its unsafe effects which may cause dizziness or seizures. The best time to apply the cream is before going to bed. Different creams and lotions have different direction to be applied. So these should be used after reading the full description on the paper inside the packing of medication.
The people, having altered immune system or the ones who don’t show any response to creams or lotions, are often given oral medication called jvemectin (Stomectol) but it is not for the children and women who are pregnant or on breastfeeding.
To treat the crusted scabies there may be need of several applications of creams or lotions, usage of jvermectin pills because its very hard to be treated.
In some cases, the rashes or itching may stay for up to 2 weeks after the treatment. But if it is prolonged, the person may be re-infected by the scabies or he or she was not using the cream or lotion appropriately.
As scabies spreads itself quickly and easily so the doctor may recommend treatment for the whole family members and others having close contacts.
It is obvious that scabies cannot be cured without recommended medication; there are several measures which can be helpful to keep away the scabies to re-infect you and your family.
Use hot water to wash all clothes and linens which have been in use for the last three days. Rather than air drying, high heat dryer should be used. As the mites can also survive on nonliving items for several days so, it is better to place the objects, which are not washable in machines (like coats and stuffed toys), in store or bag for at least one week.
In order to remove the suspected mites or eggs, clip the nails and clean the underlying skin thoroughly.
Avoid skin-to-skin contact with a person suffering from scabies until he or she get cured. If any family member has scabies, the rest of the family should also be treated simultaneously. Hospital staff should use gowns and gloves while dealing with a person with a suspicious rash or itching.