Scabies is a skin disease that causes itching and rash at hand, armpit, abdomen and finger. It is quite common and caused by a microscopic type of mite named Sarcoptes scabei which settles under the skin. Scabies transmits from person-to-person, not from animals like cats and dogs to person and mostly seen in crowded places such as eventide homes, military barracks and nursing homes. It is more easily transmitted among people who wear the same clothes and share the same bed. When the disease, which causes intense itching at night, is not treated in a timely manner, it can create scars on the skin. Scabies disease, which is very easy to treat, usually recover in short time with scabies cream, ointment and solution.
What causes scabies?
Scabies mite belongs to the Sarcoptes family. The female mite burrows just beneath your skin and makes a tunnel where it deposits eggs. The eggs hatch, and the mite larvae work their way to the surface of your skin called epidermis, where they mature and can spread to other areas of your skin or to the skin of other people. People in direct contact with a person who has a scabby parasite can easily catch the disease.
The scabby parasites, which are sexually transmitted, can spread as an outbreak among the household. This disease, which differs from race, sex or any social class is more common in people living in crowded places such as child care facilities, nursing homes and prisons. A person who is infected with scabies can infect a healthy person.
Symptoms of scabies
- Severe itching, mostly occur at night, is awaken person from her sleep
- Red-colored swellings, wounds and eruptions, usually seen between fingers, elbow, wrist, waist, thighs, armpits
- Sometimes small cavities may be seen in the skin due to the tunneling of the female scabies mite just below the skin surface. It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose these tiny, scratch-shaped cavities that are mostly grayish-white or flesh-colored. It is making difficult to find the exact places where scabies mites located since there are only 10-15 of them in one person.
- Scabies mites often live between the fingers, the knees, elbows, penis, breast, shoulder girdle and the wrist.
Most common symptoms of scabies
When a person is infected with scabies for the first time, no symptoms can be seen during one to two months (2-6 weeks), but person still can infect the others. If a person has previously had it, the disease reveals itself earlier in second time. Scabies causing intense itching can also cause other skin infections due to skin irritation.
The most common symptom of this disease is itching and redness in the skin. The reason of this is the allergic reaction of the skin caused by the excrement of the scabies parasite. Severe pruritus, especially at night, is the most common symptom of scabies. Itchy scabies that looks like an acne are frequently seen.
Itching and rashes can affect most of the body, or can only be seen locally in the wrist, elbow, underarm, genitals, shoulder and thighs.
What is crusted scabies?
It is mostly seen in people having weakened immune system, who are disabled and elderly and develops in the form of thick shells containing multiple scabies parasites and eggs.
About 2 million scabies parasites or eggs are found in the body of the person suffering from scabies. Since those people can transmit it to another person more easily, they should immediately take medical attention.
Persons in contact with clothing, furniture, bedspreads used by a person suffering from eruptive scabies have a serious risk of getting infected by it.
Risk factors of crusted scabies
It can be seen in people who are:
- having neurological disorders related to brain
- elderly people
- children and pregnant women
- disabled individuals
- having Down syndrome
- having a disease weakening immune system such as HIV, AIDS
- People undergoing chemotherapy. These patients who have the risk of skin eruption, can easily be caught in bacterial diseases such as “staphylococcus” (inflammatory rash), impetigo, and “streptococcal infection”.
Complications of scabies
Patients with scabies, who have serious intense pruritus, may have different skin problems due to the continuous scratching and damage of the skin. Skin wounds can sometimes be seen as inflammation. The patient even may develop inflammation in the kidneys with pain. Therefore, it is very important to treat patients with scabies at an early stage.
People who suffer from crusted scabies, also known as Norwegian scabies, may not have itching, redness, skin flaking and bubbles, which are considered to be characteristic signs of scabies. The immune system weakens in the people having nearly 2 million of scabies parasite in their body, and especially the neurological conditions of elderly patients prevent the appearance of these symptoms.
However, not having the symptoms of it does not mean that scabies cannot be transmitted easily to other healthy people. Despite of this fact, it is enough for people who have crusted scabies to shake hands for the parasite transmits to the healthy person.
Diagnosis of scabies
Your doctor may undergo a physical examination during the diagnosis of it, which has symptoms such as pruritus, scaling of the body. During the examination, in some cases, your doctor may remove scabies mites from your skin with a needle to confirm the diagnosis of your disease.
In cases where scabies mites cannot be easily detected, your doctor may take a tissue sample from your skin and has a number of tests to diagnose whether the mites and eggs are nestled in your skin.
Treatment of scabies
Mostly creams and lotions are used in the treatment of it. In addition to the person diagnosed with scabies, it may be necessary to treat the patient’s family and those who have close contact with the patient. At this point, the patient’s bedspreads, duvet covers, towels and clothes should be washed in hot water at least 3 days before starting the medication and drying of the items in the hot dryer is a necessity.
Putting the items in a tightly closed bag and keeping it in the bag for at least 72 hours is sufficient for the death of the scabies. Because, scabies mites cannot survive for more than 72 hours outside the human body.
The use of medications prescribed by the doctor during treatment is very important. The body cream and lotions, which are usually prescribed by doctor, must be applied to body according to the instructions in the prescription during the treatment. In some cases, the doctor can prescribe oral medications.
How to use scabies cream, ointments and lotions?
Scabies cream and lotions prescribed by the doctor should be applied from the neck to the feet and toes. When it comes to children and small babies, cream and lotions should be applied to the face, to the whole head and even to the scalp. Younger children and infants can only use permethrin cream or sulfur ointment. The person should take bath before the creams and ointments are applied to the body since they must be applied to clean skin.
Cream and lotions should remain in the body during the time specified in the patient leaflet. During the first few weeks of the treatment, itching may persist even if all scabies mites and eggs are dead. However, in cases when itching starts after the 2nd or 4th week, or new cavities in the skin have acne-like rashes, re-treatment may be required.
- Creams containing permethrin
- Sulfuric ointments
- Lotions containing Lindan
- Creams containing crotamitone
- Benzyl Benzonate Lotions
In cases where pruritus is uncomfortable, your doctor may prescribe Benadryl and similar itching creams. In more serious and widespread scabies, Ivermectin oral tablets can be prescribed.
It is especially important for the people who are not responding to treatment, who have crusted scabies and who have almost all of their body infected by scabies are taking oral medication.
Scabies symptoms may seem to worsen in the first week of treatment, but you are expected to recover completely when the fourth week of treatment is complete. However, you should keep in mind that it will continue for 2-4 weeks.
Home remedies for scabies
There are many natural treatments to help relieve the symptoms. The most well-known of these are tea tree oil, aloe vera, red pepper and clove oil. However, before you use such medicinal herbs, it is very important for you to consult your doctor.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil can recover skin rash and help to stop itching. However, bear in the mind that this oil alone will not be sufficient to destroy the mite eggs that are located in deeper areas of your skin. Put a small amount of tea tree oil into a spray bottle and spray to the bed and linens.
Neem plant relieves inflammation and pain. It also has antibacterial properties. Neem can be found as oil and may also be present in soaps and creams.
Some scientific studies have shown that aloe vera can be effective in fighting scabies. If you want to use aloe vera, make sure to buy pure aloe vera gel without any additives. Also be sure to consult your doctor before using
Clove oils and other essential oils
Clove oil is an insecticide and has been shown to kill scabies taken from rabbits and pigs. In addition, other essential oils (lavender, oregano) are reported to be useful in the treatment of scabies. However, no medicinal plants can be as effective as medical drugs and must be used as doctor’s advice.
How do you prevent scabies?
- Avoid close contact with the person suffering from scabies
- Wash the patient’s clothing and all items used in boiling water and dry in a hot dryer.
- If one of the households is infected with scabies, you should see a doctor and start treatment.
- If you have been diagnosed with scabies, use all the medicines recommended by your doctor
- Clean the room that the person suffering from scabies is staying and clean the house thoroughly. For more: >>> Scabies