Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by a microscopic mite.
It is common all over the world, and can affect anyone. Scabies spreads quickly in crowded conditions where there is frequent skin-to-skin contact between people. Hospitals, child-care centers, and nursing homes are examples. Scabies can easily infect sex partners and other household members. Sharing clothes, towels, and bedding can sometimes spread scabies. This can happen much more easily when the infested person has crusted scabies. You cannot get scabies from a pet. Pets get a different mite infection called mange.
- Pimple-like irritations or a rash
- Intense itching, especially at night
- Sores caused by scratching
Your health care provider diagnoses scabies by looking at the skin rash and finding burrows in the skin.
Several lotions are available to treat scabies. The infected person's clothes, bedding and towels should be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer. Treatment is also recommended for household members and sexual partners.
Scabies is found among people of all groups and ages around the world. Scabies spread by skin-to-skin contact with another person who has scabies. Less often it can be spread by sharing clothes or bedding. Sometimes whole families are affected.
Outbreaks of scabies are more common in nursing homes, nursing facilities, college dorms, and child care centers.
The mites that cause scabies burrow into the skin and lay their eggs. This forms a burrow that looks like a pencil mark. Eggs hatch in 21 days. The itchy rash is an allergic response to the mite.
Pets and animals cannot spread human scabies.
It is also not very likely for scabies to be spread by:
- A swimming pool
- Contact with the towels, bedding, and clothing of someone who has scabies, unless the person has what is called "crusted scabies"
- Itching, most commonly at night
- Rashes, mostly between the fingers
- Sores (abrasions) on the skin from scratching and digging
- Thin, pencil-mark lines on the skin
Mites may be more widespread on a baby's skin, causing pimples over the trunk, or small blisters over the palms and soles.
In young children, the infection may be on the head, neck, shoulders, palms, and soles of feet. However, in older children and adults, the infection may be on the hands, wrists, genitals, and abdomen
The doctor will examine your skin for signs of scabies. The doctor will look at scrapings taken from a burrow to look for the mites. A skin biopsy can also be done.
- Before treatment, wash underwear, towels, and sleepwear in hot water. Items that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned can be decontaminated by removing from any body contact for at least 72 hours.
- Vacuum the carpets and upholstered furniture.
- Use calamine lotion and soak in a cool bath to ease itching.
- Take an oral antihistamine if your doctor recommends it for very bad itching.
The whole family or sexual partners of infected people should be treated, even if they do not have symptoms.
Medicines from your Health Care Provider
- Creams prescribed by your health care provider are needed to treat scabies.
- The cream most often used is permethrin 5%.
- Other creams include benzyl benzoate, sulfur in petrolatum, and crotamiton.
- Lindane is rarely used because of its side effects.
Apply the medicine all over your body. Creams may be used as a one-time treatment tor they may be repeated in 1 week.
For hard to treat cases, your health care provider may also prescribe a pill known as Ivermectin.
Itching may continue for 2 weeks or more after treatment begins. It will disappear if you follow your health care provider's treatment plan.
Most cases of scabies can be cured without any long-term problems. A severe case with a lot of scaling or crusting may be a sign that the person has a disease such as HIV.