Scabies goes undetected very often; even after a physician has seen the patient. No one wants to be diagnosed with Scabies because it is also commonly associated with being dirty. This is not the case and you should read more to under stand what exactly is Scabies, how you get infested with Scabies and most importantly, what is available to Kill Scabies.
Scabies is contagious and can be transmitted by direct contact with infected skin. Treating scabies can be difficult if not detected early.
What is Scabies?
Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by a skin mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. The female and male mites mate on top of the skin; however only the female scabies mite burrows herself into the skin to reproduce. The female skin mite burrows into the skin and lays eggs and reproduce. This burrowing action is what causes intense itching, irritation, inflammation and reddening of the skin.
Scabies is highly contagious and defined as a transmissible, ectoparasite scabies skin mite infection. This is a parasite that lives and grows in and on the skin. There are charts below that show you the life cycle of a scabies mite that affects people.
Scabies only gets worse if untreated because the scabies mites continue to multiply. If untreated, the scabies mites continue to multiply until the host begins to suffer from cracked, scaly skin called Norwegian scabies. Although the scabies rash is curable, the scabies treatment for Norwegian scabies is difficult due to the number of scabies mites living on the skin.
Usually on an infected person there are about 10-15 scabies mites. This number will increase if a scabies treatment is not sought.
The scabies mites belong to the same subclass as ticks that live on the bodies of animals. In animals, scabies is caused by a different skin mite, which cannot reproduce on human skin. Therefore, it is not possible to contract scabies from infected animals.
The scabbies mite, commonly called Sarcoptes scabiei, is a type of skin mite or skin parasite. A skin parasite is an organism that obtains nourishment from another living organism (called a host) in order to reproduce. In the process it causes damage to the host (YOU!) – leading to what is called an infection called a scabies rash.
On a human being an adult skin mite lives for about two to three weeks. The female skin mite, upon burrowing, lays about two- three eggs per day for two months. Within 3 or 4 days, larvae emerge. It takes about 9-11 days for the larvae to develop into an adult male and 17 days to develop into a female.
Seeing the scabies mite is very hard due to its size. The size of the scabies mite ranges from about 0.3 to 0.9 mm. It is microscopic, however at times, it can be spotted at a tiny white pin point at the end of the burrow.
The scabies must be on a human for it to survive… Since the skin mite cannot survive off the human skin for more than 24- 36 hours, you shouldn’t get it by sharing or using the same bed sheet, towels or clothes. (However, this is no excuse to not wash them).
Scabies is transferred by direct skin contact . Prolonged handshakes, hugging, carrying children who are infected can pass on the skin mite to healthy people as well. Small children are at risk the most because they require skin contact so much from holding them.
If someone in the house has scabies; its not uncommon for EVERYONE to have scabies. It is very common for an entire household to suffer from scabies due to just one infected person, and usually this is the case. You will want to treat the entire family at one time for scabies.
Symptoms of Scabies
The scabies mite uses her front pinchers or claws to dig into the skin or borrow into the skin. This action causes intense itching! . It is also caused when larvae become adults and begin to roam around on the skin or attach themselves to hair follicles.
You would commonly find the scabies mites in the warmest areas of your body such as:
- Areas around the buttocks
- The wrists
- Inner elbows
- Between finger
- Around the nipples (in women)
- Around the genitals (in men)
- Around the waist and umbilicus
- Sides of the feet
Unlike in other skin infections, where the itching happens in spurts, in scabies the itching is continuous and tends to worsen at night. Most patients are not able to sleep at all – such is the extent of the itching. If you suffer from itching that wakes you up in the middle of the night, you mostly suffer from scabies.
Intense itching is the first scabies symptom of a scabies rash. The itching usually does not start for a few (4 to 6) weeks, then increases gradually until, in about 2 months, it becomes relentless.
The scabies rashes are often confused with stretch marks or even dry skin; therefore treating scabies can be difficult if misdiagnosed. Burrows are usually very difficult to see, however, if looked at carefully, you could see a skin mite at the end of a burrow as a tiny white point.
Diagnosis & Tests of Scabies
There are different ways in which a doctor will most commonly diagnose scabies:
Burrow Ink Test (BIT): If burrows are present, the ink will penetrate into the burrows, highlighting their presence. These burrows are, however hard to locate. In this case, the doctor will mark the area with a felt-tip pen and the wipe off with alcohol. Usually presence of burrows on the skin confirms scabies.
Topical Tetracycline Solution: The Topical Tetracycline solution is applied on the rash and wiped off with alcohol. This solution is applied when diagnosis from the ink test is difficult. The rash is then examined under a special light which will illumine the pattern of the burrows.
Most prescribed scabies treatments are very harsh and toxic scabies creams. It is critical that as a parent you understand that you are applying TOXIC chemicals to your families skin. These toxic ingredients cause serious side affects and they are also responsible for death, neurological problems, asthmatic breathing, nasal stuffiness, headaches, nausea, loss of coordination, tremors, convulsions, facial flushing and swelling, burning and itching.
There are indeed complications that can happen from these toxic scabies creams. Infant and small children are the most common victims of severe poisonings reported because they are not able to efficiently break down these pesticides when using them for a scabies remedy.
Doctors usually prescribe Pyrethrum and Lindane as a scabies remedy. Both of these ingredients are labeled with CAUTION, and Lindane has been banned in several states because of its high toxicity.
Traditional toxic medication prescribed:
Permethrin (5%): This is to be applied to areas from neck-down, left on overnight and then washed off in the morning. Also known as Elimite lotion; it is one of the most popular toxic scabies remedies that is being prescribed. The doctor will usually ask you to repeat the application for this toxic scabies remedy in seven days.
Lindane (1%):If you’re pregnant or nursing – do not use Lindane. Same applies to children below 2 years of age. Lindane is again to be applied neck-down and left on the skin for about 8 hours and washed off with warm water to ensure it is completely removed. Lindane is only recommended where the Permethrin has failed since it can cause seizures if absorbed through the skin and is considered the last choice when prescribing a scabies remedy. However, one must not use very hot water as that can cause the lotion to seep into the skin.
Malathoin Lotion (0.5%): This scabies lotion is another one of the most popular scabies remedies and when applied for 24 hours is effective in eliminating scabies mites and eggs; however is also considered a highly toxic scabies remedy.
At times oral medication may be used along with topical scabies treatments. The doctor might prescribe a dose of Ivermectin which is also highly toxic and also can create serious side effects.
Sulphur based scabies creams and scabies soaps have also been known to be effective in some cases when infestation is caught early on. There are several other natural scabies medications on the internet that are known to be highly effective to kill scabies mites.
Sulphur based scabies products are considered a natural cure for scabies.These natural scabies medications come with the advantage of being cheaply available and can be used by pregnant or nursing women.
Tips to Aid in Getting Rid of Scabies
You should get the entire family treated for scabies. This includes anyone who is in regular physical contact with the infected person. Additonally, these rules apply when treating scabies whether they show scabies symptoms or no. It is the only known way for a successful scabies cure.
Dry all bed sheets, linen daily. Remember that heat is your friend. Heat will kill these scabies mites that are on your bed linen and just waiting to infest you again!
Use medication only as directed. You can use non-toxic scabies cure treatments as often as you need; unlike the toxic prescriptions traditionally used.
Complication in Scabies
Those suffering from an impaired immune system are at a greater risk of Norwegian Scabies. Norwegian scabies have very little itching but skin can turn extremely dry, scaly and flake easily. The very toxic oral medication Ivermectin is usually prescribed for treatment of norwegian scabies.
Chances of such a scabies infection are higher in individuals with an immune deficiency or a condition which thwarts recovery. A second infection will usually be caused due to scratching, which might tear the skin, exposing it to the scabies mites or other infection.The most common complication can arise out of a secondary infection due to scabies.
The other complication is the progression of the infection to a severe form called as norwegian scabies. (This has nothing to do with Norway). This is a condition where the skin gets crusted and scaly and begins to fall off if scratched in any manner.
The body develops an allergic reaction to the remnants of the scabies mites and hence the itching begins and continues until the scabies mites die. However, this should subside withiin 3-6 weeks. Gently scrubbing or exfoliation will often help the intense itching from scabies.
The intense Itching will usually continue for up to 2 weeks after a scabies treatment is is completed. Do not confuse this and thinking that your scabies treatment did not work! This condition is called ‘post-nodular scabies.’
The itching is due to debris, feces and secretions of the scabies mites that remain encrusted in the burrows or under the skin. The itching is from an allergic reaction to these foreign matters beneath your skin.
Preventing a Scabies Reinfestation
During the period of scabies treatment, it is advisable that you are not in direct contact with a person who has a scabies infestation.
Scabies is in no manner life threatening.
It only causes discomfort and inconvenience and if you are not careful, then a secondary infection can easily happen due to the scratching. The main problem is that it is highly contagious and you should be very careful not to have direct contact with another person until you have killed the scabies mite.
It is quite possible that a scabies rash will reoccur. There is no vaccination for it neither is the system completely immune to it. Therefore, it is essential to continue to dry your clothes, sheets and towels in a very hot dryer for about a week after your scabies treatment. Remember heat is your friend! Simple precautions exercised around the house will help in preventing spread of the disease:
- Steam clean beddings while washing themRegularly vacuum all those objects which you cannot wash easily like soft toys, thick coats and jackets, etc.
- Do not use a towel twice without washing it or drying it on hot
- If you share your mattress with someone, ensure it is vacuumed everyday or use a cover and wash that everyday
- Ensure that your car seats, office chairs, carpets, curtains etc are steam cleaned while you are being treated.
- If it’s not possible to wash linen, bed sheets, covers, etc everyday: they should be tumbled in a dryer at very high temperature (140 degrees +) in order to eliminate the scabies skin mites.
- Abstain from any physical contact while under scabies treatment.
- Infested objects which cannot be vacuumed or cleaned must be placed in a bag for about 2 weeks since scabies mites cannot go that long off of a human host