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A Brief Insight Into Scabies, Its Causes, And Treatment!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Satish Titoria 85% (33 ratings)
Dermatologist, Noida  •  15 years experience
A Brief Insight Into Scabies, Its Causes, And Treatment!

A highly contagious skin condition that is caused by the infestations of tiny burrowing mites but is treatable with medication is Scabies. When the skin comes in direct contact with infested bedding or clothing, microscopic human mites, known as Sarcoptes Scabiei, are transmitted into the skin, burrowing into the epidermis. Once the mites reach the epidermis, it lays eggs there and continues to live, causing scabies which results in skin rashes and itchy bumps.

Scabies is caused by the microscopic human itch mite when it burrows inside the epidermis. And there are two ways that a person can be infected with scabies, which are:

  1. Contact with objects infested: Sometimes, when the mite is present on an object, such as the bed sheet or the upholstered furniture, the towel or the bedding, and the skin comes in contact with these objects, scabies may spread. However, one must know that without human skin contact, the mite can survive only for 48 to 72 hours and this makes the risk of causing scabies through contact with infected objects less common.
  2. Direct skin to skin contact: Scabies is contagious but not highly contagious. Skin contact for a small period of time can not infect a person. Close physical with the infected person can lead to the spread of mites.

It is to be noted here that getting scabies from animals is not possible even if the animal has mites as this kind of scabies infest the human skin only.

Scabies is often confused with other skin issues like eczema and psoriasis. Therefore, every person with severe itching should be tested for scabies. Once diagnosed, the treatment is relatively simple. Listed below are some of the treatment options:

  1. Antibiotics: Patients who are suffering from excessive skin rash, itching and infections are usually treated with antibiotics to ease the itchy sensation.
  2. Decontamination: The decontamination involves washing the clothes of the infected person in hot water and keeping the objects that cannot be washed in a bag for around 2 to 3 days to kill mites and their eggs.
  3. Scabicides: Depending on the severity, overall health and age, the patient may be prescribed oral medication and creams.
  4. Antihistamine: Antihistamine refers to over-the-counter anti-allergy drugs that can also be of help in managing the itching and rashes.

Things to remember:

  1. In case of infected adults, scabicide cream or lotion needs to be applied all over infected person’s body, starting from the neck down to the toes.
  2. If a child is infected with scabies, the scabicide cream or lotion needs to be applied from head to toe.
  3. In case of an infant, it is advised that only sulfur ointment or permethrin may be used. It is essential that the medication is applied only over a clean body.
  4. All the people living with the infected person should also be treated simultaneously to avoid reinfestation.

As scabies spread moderately contagious, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent it from spreading further and causing any more trouble.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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