Scabies is a condition which is caused due to the infestation of eight-legged microscopic mite known by the name of Sarcoptes scabiei. These tiny mites attack the outer layer of the human skin and cause an infestation called Scabies. Rather than infection, Scabies is an infestation or simply a skin condition.
The mites excavate the skin and lay their eggs this leads to their infestation in the skin which further results in rashes and intense itching on the surface of the skin. There is a strong urge to scratch, especially at night.
Every year nearly hundreds of people suffer from the problem of scabies irrespective of the socioeconomic status and age. Nearly 300 million people get infected by scabies all around the world.
When a person suffers from scabies, there are pimples like rashes on the skin. It is often confused with acne and mosquito bites as they look quite similar with just a bit of difference in the appearance. What stands scabies apart from other skin diseases is the itching as it is relentless and severe as compared to others.
Given below are some of the key indicators which help in recognizing the scabies skin condition:
There are four stages in the life cycle of scabies:
The mite that causes scabies of single type i.e. Sarcoptes Scabiei. However, the infestation these mites cause can be of different types. The types of infestation are:
Itchy, raised bumps or lumps may be developed by these kinds of scabies. These are developed in genital areas, groin or armpits.
Norwegian Scabies or Crusted Scabies is the other type of scabies can be formed in some people.. The severity of this scabies is a little more than other kinds of Scabies and also, it is extremely contagious.
A thick crust of skin containing thousands of eggs and mites is developed on the skin in case of crusted scabies.
Norwegian Scabies can also be formed like:
People with weak immunity systems generally develop crusted scabies. This category includes people with HIV or AIDS, people who are going through chemotherapy or someone who uses certain medications or steroids.
As the name suggests, it is the most typical and common type of infestation. Itchy rashes are caused on skin, hands, wrists and other common spots on the body. Nevertheless, the face or scalp remains unaffected.
If the person is suffering from the problem of scabies for the very first time then it would take approximately 2 to 4 weeks for the symptoms to appear in the person. However, in patients who have a history of the scabies infestation, the symptoms appear within 1 to 4 days.
The size of the mites is so petite that they are not visible to a naked human eye. These mites can only be seen with the help of a microscope. As scabies are not visible to the human eye thus the condition of scabies is recognized through the rashes which are caused by mites.
After the skin has been exposed to Scabies, the symptom can take up to 6 weeks to appear. People who have had scabies before may develop symptoms a little earlier.
The appearance of Scabies can be rashes and intense itching. It gets worse at night time. Due to itching, people continuously scratch the area where the rash is. It is not recommended as scratching the infected are sores which then become infected.
The signs and symptoms of scabies are inclusive of:
Scabies can occur anywhere in the human body.
In adults, Common areas on the body where scabies can occur are:
In the case of babies and toddlers, Scabies can occur on:
In humans, the condition of scabies is caused by an eight-legged mite known by the name of Sarcoptes scabiei. Their extremely small size makes them impossible to be seen with naked eyes. But certainly, their effects can be seen.
From the surface of the skin, they spread to various parts of the body after maturing. The allergic reaction of the mites to the body causes itching on the skin. The mites can be spread to other people when a non-infected person physically comes in contact with an infected person.
Sharing the beds and the clothing of the infected person can also cause scabies to spread. Other ways of spreading mites are:
A simple physical examination by the doctor, inspecting the affected area of the skin can help diagnose scabies. In some cases, the need may occur where the doctor needs to diagnose by removing a mite from the skin with the help of a needle.
If the doctor finds it difficult to spot a mite, the doctor needs to scrape off a small section of the skin to take the sample of the tissue. The sample of the skin is then examined under a microscope and the presence/absence of mites in the skin is confirmed.
Another way is the Scabies ink test aka Burrow ink test. It helps to identify the burrowed trails in the skin created by the mites. To perform this test, the doctors pour a drop of ink on the infested area from a fountain pen. After the test is done, the ink is wiped away.
Scabies treatment usually entails complete elimination of the infestation with the help of prescribed ointments, medicines, creams or lotions.
The patients are usually instructed to apply the prescribed medicines at night as the mites are most active at night time. Once the mites attack the skin (any area of it), the medicines need to be applied to the whole body i.e. from neck to toe. It can be washed off in the morning.
The treatment is required to be repeated after seven days. The ways of applying medicine must be consulted by the doctor.
Given are some medicines used to treat scabies:
Statutory warning: Please consult a doctor before opting out for self medication. Doctor guidance is suggested for utmost care.
Scabies is a highly contagious disease and it spreads like a wildfire through close physical contact. The mites spread from person to person who is in close skin contact. Mites burrow in the top layer of the skin and lay eggs. When the eggs hatch, they transfer up onto the surface of the skin and then spread among those in contact.
Prolonged contacts only allow scabies to spread. Brief contact shaking head does not spread scabies until and unless the shake is for several minutes. People who are majorly at risk are the ones who live in the same house as the infected person.
Being a strong contagious disease, scabies spread quickly among those who are in close contact. It can be family, friends, classroom, social group etc. The mites are communicable and are easily transferable among people.
Direct skin contact between two people is the most common way of spreading mites. Other ways of spreading mites are:
Because of the reason that scabies is so contagious, in most of the cases the doctors recommend treatment for family and other contact groups who are in contact with the primary person.
The lifetime of scabies on human skin is about 2 months. After they lose contact from human skin, they die in 3-4 days.
Itching and burning could be experienced because of the rash while the treatment of scabies is going on. The reason behind this is that, even after the mites are dead, the eggs and mites waste remain in the skin.
The treatment for scabies concentrates on the getting rid of the mites infestation. The doctors usually prescribe topical medications to provide relief in the symptoms of scabies.
Normally the doctor would recommend the patient to apply the topical medication on the whole body below the neck region and leave it for approximately 8 to 10 hours.
Due to the simple fact that scabies is a highly contagious disease the doctor may recommend the treatment of scabies to all the member of the family of the infected person.
Here are certain steps which are required to be taken to get rid of scabies:
Scabies infestation is curable. If treated right and the infested person has a good prognosis, both eczema and itching resolve.
Avoiding direct contact with the person infested should be avoided. It is prescribed to avoid using unwashed clothing or bedding of the person having scabies.
After falling off the human body, scabies can live up to 3-4 days, so precautions must be taken to prevent other infestation on the same person or other people living there.
Washing off clothes is important, but one important point is to make sure that everything is water is warm and the temperature is about 50°C. Following should be prioritised in your laundry bucket:
Apart from the usual treatment for scabies involving topical applications and medication an infected person can also opt for some home remedies to provide relief in the condition. Some of the home remedies which can be used for the treatment of scabies are: