Scabies is not an infection, but an infestation. Tiny mites called Sarcoptes scabiei set up shop in the outer layers of human skin. The skin does not take kindly to the invasion. As the mites burrow and lay eggs inside the skin, the infestation leads to relentless itching and an angry rash.
Scabies is contagious and can spread very easily from person to person through close physical contact. This makes an outbreak likely in settings such as the family home, child care group, school class, nursing home, or prison.The average person infested with scabies will have 15 to 20 mites present.
However, it can affect people of all ages, whatever their living situation and socioeconomic status. If an individual has scabies, they and anyone they have close contact with must all be treated at the same time.
The first time a person is exposed to the scabies mite, it can take upwards of 2 to 6 weeksTrusted Source for symptoms to develop.
Signs and symptoms of scabies include:
• Itching : This is often worse at night and can be severe and intense. Itching is one of the most common scabies symptoms.
• Rash : When the mite burrows into the skin, it forms burrow tracks, or lines, which are most commonly found in skin folds, and resemble hives, bites, knots, pimples, or patches of scaly skin. Blisters may also be present.
• Sores : These occur in infested areas where a person has scratched at the skin. Open sores can lead to impetigo, commonly caused by secondary infection with Staphylococcus aureus.
• Thick crusts : Crusted scabies, also known as Norwegian scabies, is a form of severe scabies in which hundreds to thousands of mites and mite eggs are harbored within skin crusts, causing severe skin symptoms.
The most common site of infestation in adults and older children include:
• in between the fingers
• around fingernails
• inner parts of the wrists
• inner elbow
• soles of the feet
• the breasts, particularly the areas around the nipples
• male genitalia
• shoulder blades
Infants and young children experience infestation in other areas of the body, including the:
• palms of the hands
• soles of the feet
At times, children can present with a widespread infestation, covering a majority of the body. Infants who are infested with scabies tend to exhibit symptoms of irritability, and sleeping and eating difficulties.
The eight-legged mite that causes scabies in humans is microscopic. 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, where they mature and can spread to other areas of your skin or to the skin of other people. The itching of scabies results from your body’s allergic reaction to the mites, their eggs and their waste.
Close physical contact and, less often, the sharing of clothing or bedding with an infected person can spread the mites.
Animals and humans all are affected by their own distinct species of mites. Each species prefers one specific type of host and doesn’t live long away from that preferred host.
Risk Factors –
Anyone can get scabies, but those at higher risk include:
• Sexually active adults
• Prison inmates
• People in institutional care
• People living in crowded conditions
• People in child care facilities
The intense itching of scabies leads to prolonged and often intense scratching of the skin. When the skin is broken or injured due to scratching, secondary bacterial infections of the skin can develop from bacteria normally present on the skin, such as Staphylococcus aureus or beta-hemolytic streptococci.
In most cases, a doctor can identify scabies based on the appearance of the rash and your description of the itch. Sometimes a skin scraping is used to confirm the diagnosis. This involves collecting skin from the affected area and using a microscope to check the sample for mites, eggs, or fecal matter.
Since scabies is a parasitic infestation, antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections are not effective. The following steps should be included in the medical treatment of scabies:
• Apply a mite-killer like permethrin (Elimite). These creams are applied from the neck down, left on overnight, then washed off. This application is usually repeated in seven days.
• An alternative treatment is 1 ounce of a 1% lotion or 30 grams of cream of lindane, applied from the neck down and washed off after approximately eight hours. As an additional precaution, lindane should not be used during pregnancy or in nursing women, the elderly, people with skin sores at the site of the application, children younger than 2 years of age.
• Ivermectin (Stromectol), an oral medication, is an antiparasitic medication that has also been shown to be an effective scabicide.
• Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can be useful in helping provide relief from itching. Sometimes, a short course of topical or oral steroids is prescribed to help control the itching.
• Wash linens and bedclothes in hot water. Because mites don’t live long away from the body, it is not necessary to dry-clean the whole wardrobe, spray furniture and rugs, and so forth.
• Treat sexual contacts or relevant family members
To prevent re-infestation and to prevent the mites from spreading to other people, take these steps:
• Clean all clothes and linen.
Use hot, soapy water to wash all clothing, towels and bedding used within three days before beginning treatment. Dry with high heat. Dry-clean items you can’t wash at home.
• Starve the mites.
Consider placing items you can’t wash in a sealed plastic bag and leaving it in an out-of-the-way place, such as in your garage, for a couple of weeks. Mites die after a few days without food.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
Scabies can be correlated with Pama in Ayurveda Which is caused by Kapha pitta dushti.
• Gandhak Rasayan
• Tankan Bhasm
• Kaishore Guggulu
• Aarogyavardhini Vati
• Dashanga Lepa
• Avipattikar Churna
• Neem Oil
• Mahamarichadi Oil
• Patoladi Kashayam
For more informative articles on health issues, please visit our website www.santripty.com and also feel free to consult.