What is scabies?
Scabies is a condition that causes itching and rashes on the skin. It is mainly caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. These mites live, reproduce, and lay eggs on your skin. If left untreated, this process can go on for months and become severe.
Scabies can be transmitted from one person to another through skin contact. However, intimate contact like sex is not necessary for transmission.
Only one mite can cause three types of scabies:
- Typical scabies: This is the most common type of scabies that involves rashes on the hands, wrists, and other common open spots on the body.
- Nodular scabies: In this type of scabies, nodules like lumps are formed in armpits, genital area or groin.
- Norwegian scabies: The most severe type of scabies is Norwegian scabies, also called crusted scabies. Gray-colored thick crusts develop on the skin of the infected person.
The onset of scabies symptoms can differ depending on whether the person has had it before or not. Those who have already experienced the condition usually develop the symptoms quickly. For others, the symptoms may take 2 to 6 weeks.
Some of the common symptoms of scabies are as follows:
- Intense itching that gets
- Thick, grey and crumbling crusts
- Tiny bumps like pimples on the skin
Common areas where scabies affects the most are wrists, armpit, between fingers, elbow, nipple, buttocks and waist. In toddlers, scabies usually occurs on the face, head, neck, hands and soles of the feet.
Who is at Risk?
Anyone can get infected with this condition irrespective of their age, sex or race. But there are some conditions that can be counted as scabies risk factors include:
- A close and crowded environment such as a college dorm as it increases the chances of infestation.
- Sexually active young adults and people with multiple sexual partners
- People living in extended care facilities
- older adults since they have weaker immune system
- Those who are immunocompromised, including those with HIV/AIDS, transplant recipients
There are mainly two causes of scabies with infestation being the primary one. Both of the reasons for scabies are discussed below:
- The Mite: Scabies is caused by the infestation of tiny mites. The female mite burrows deep in the skin and starts laying eggs which results in the itching and rashes on the skin.
- Close Contact: When you get in close contact with a person who is infected with rabies, you can also get scabies. Though direct skin-to-skin contact is a common way to get the infection, the mite can also spread through furniture, clothes and bedding.
How is Scabies diagnosed?
Usually, self-check is the first step for scabies diagnosis but visiting a specialist is the best thing to do. Here is what you can expect during the process:
- Physical Exam: The doctors will begin by inspecting the affected skin and may even remove mite from the skin for microscopic evaluation.
- Scabies ink test (or Burrow Ink Test): This scabies test can help in spotting burrowed paths in your skin created by the mites. It is done using an ink that can easily get through the burrowed tunnels and become obvious to the naked eye.
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test: The doctors use the skin scrapings to identify the genetic material of the mites. However, this test is not generally used.
How is scabies treated?
Scabies treatment is quite simple and focuses on removing the infestation from the skin. The doctors give prescription for creams, lotions and ointments for direct application on the affected region. Oral medicine for scabies is also available.
Scabies can get complicated if it is not treated at the right time. If you are someone who is looking for a scabies cure, Care.Fit is the right solution for you. We have a team of experienced dermatologists who gives specialized consultation. You can check our website or app to book an online consultation as well.
How can scabies be prevented?
While it is difficult to prevent scabies, there are a few measures you can take to ensure that you and your loved ones can avoid the infestation. These steps can help a lot if someone you know has scabies:
- For scabies prevention, avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with the infected person
- Wash your clothes and bedding and dry them on a very high heat to kill the mites
- Do not share towels and clothes of the infected person
- Treat everyone in the house for possible infection