Microscopic insects known as mites are responsible for the skin disease called Scabies. The mites also known as Sacroptus scabiei, can live on your skin for many days and tend to reproduce and lay eggs by burrowing into the skin. This causes severe itching and rashes to form on the skin. This is a highly contagious infestation and can easily be passed from one person to another by skin to skin contact. This infestation of mites can also be transmitted through clothing or bedding etc. It is most commonly seen in kids and young adults.
The symptoms of scabies may take a while to appear, sometimes as many as six weeks. However, a person infected before may develop the symptoms sooner. The main symptom of scabies is a bright red rash along with intense itching, which worsens at night. The continuous scratching at the rash may cause sores that could further get infected, worsening the condition and could require a round of antibiotics along with the prescribed treatment for scabies. A rare symptom of crusted skin occurs from a severe form of scabies where thousands of mites and eggs grow on the skin causing a crusted skin appearance.
The common sites where the infestation of scabies could occur are the wrists, areas between the fingers, around fingernails, elbows, armpits, waist, soles of the feet, knees, male genital area, on the breasts especially around the nipples. In infants the infestation could occur on the scalp, face or even neck. In few cases scabies may occur in most areas of the body.
Since the symptoms of scabies appear to be similar to that of eczema, it is suggested to get a proper diagnosis from a dermatologist.
The treatment for scabies infestation involves prescribed topical application of creams, ointments or lotions to the affected area. These medications are usually applied at night and washed off in the morning. Oral medications may also be prescribed.
Other medications like antihistamines (to prevent allergies), anti itching lotions or antibiotics may be prescribed in case of infection of the sores, caused by scratching. It is also suggested for any person who is in close contact to the infected person to receive treatment for the same.
One of the best preventive measures is to avoid direct skin to skin contact with an infected person. Also one should avoid contact with any clothing or bedding that belongs to them. Since the mites can live for three to four days after being removed from the body, one must make sure of washing any clothing, bed sheets, towels etc in hot water. Alternatively, a combination of bleach and hot water may be used to treat any surfaces or flooring.