Scabies is a skin condition that causes extreme itching. It appears as tiny red bumps or blisters, which are often in clusters. If allowed to spread, scabies can cover virtually the whole body. It is, however, more likely to be found in areas where the skin is more folded and hence stays warm and possibly moist. Some of the areas where scabies is likely to appear initially are under the breasts, in the genital area, under the arms, on the scalp, on the palms of the hands, an between the fingers and toes.
Scabies is highly contagious and can quickly be spread by close physical contact of any kind. It can also be spread through the contact or usage of infected clothing,- or bedding. If one family member has scabies, it is quite likely the whole family will become victims.
Scabies is caused by the scabies mite, a microscopic mite that can quickly burrow beneath the skin. Here the mite lays its eggs. When the young hatch, they crawl to the surface of the skin, – these mites cannot fly – and make a burrow of their own, where they will lay eggs. Although other animals, such as cats and dogs, may have scabies, and the responsible mites may cause humans annoyance, animal scabies will not live long on a human host.
The itching from scabies can be intense, and subsequent scratching is likely to break the blisters and cause infection. Generally this is the main danger associated with scabies. However, individuals who have compromised immune systems, are ill, or elderly, may possibly suffer from a more severe form of scabies, called crusted scabies, or Norwegian scabies. In Norwegian scabies, large portions of the body are severely affected. Crusts from over the affected areas and the nails may become deformed. Crusted scabies is very difficult to treat.
Visit your physician immediately, if you have any skin problems. All problems respond more quickly to treatment if it is begun immediately.
Scabies is easily diagnosed through microscopic examination of a particle of infected skin. Once the scabies mite is identified, treatment can begin.
There are several prescribed ointments available that will kill the scabies mite. The ointment must be applied to the whole body, from top down. By leaving the ointment on for the recommended length of time, the mites will be killed. Usually the treatment must be repeated at least once to ensure that all the mites, and offspring, are dead. If there is any likelihood that other family member may be infected, they too may need to be treated. Although the mites may be killed quickly, the itching may persist for some time. Antihistamines and anit-itch medication will deal with this problem.
Your doctor will decide what treatment is best for you.
It may not be possible to prevent scabies, but good hygiene habits, and regular house cleaning can help.