Scabies are parasitic mites that dig holes (burrow) under the surface of the skin and lay eggs. The larvae that hatch move to new areas of the body and spread the infection.
Mites prefer warm areas such as the folds of skin on the elbows, wrists, buttocks, knees, shoulder blades, waist, breasts, and penis, between the fingers, and under the nails.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Within three to four weeks of infestations an infected person could experience:
- Intense itchiness, especially at night-time or after bathing. This is caused by an allergic reaction to the mites’ feces.
- Reddish rash on fingers, wrists, armpits, waist, nipples, or penis.
- With recurrences, the same symptoms occur more rapidly within hours to days of a re-infestation.
- Severe infections are commonly seen in people with compromised immune systems or HIV. The skin can become scaly or crusty, requiring more complex and aggressive treatment.
How are scabies transmitted?
Scabies are spread through close contact with someone who is infected. Scabies can live for three days on clothing, towels and bedding. These can be a source of transmission, but that is much less likely than skin to skin contact.
Mites are not related to poor hygiene. Anyone can get scabies, though it’s most common among sexually active people and in situations where individuals are in close contact.
HOW is scabies DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosing scabies can be difficult and timely, but a healthcare professional examines the area to determine if the patient is infected. A sample may be scraped from the skin and analyzed under a microscope if necessary.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT GETTING scabies?
- Avoid sharing unwashed towels and clothing.
- If it can’t be washed, vacuum it.
- If you’re shopping for a bathing suit, wear your underclothes while trying things on in the change room.
what is the treatment for scabies?
- A special lotion the doctor prescribes is applied to the whole body.
- Some treatments are available without a prescription, ask your pharmacist
- Clothes, towels, bedding and other possible contaminated items should be washed with hot water or drycleaned, or bagged for three days to one week. This kills the mites.
- Items that cannot be cleaned should be vacuumed.
Impact if not treated
- Persistent scratching or irritated skin can cause a secondary bacterial infection.