treatment should be utilized as soon as possible when signs first appear.
is a highly contagious itchy skin condition caused by an infestation by the itch mite. (Sarcoptes scabiei)
Skin-to-skin contact is the way scabies are transmitted.
A severe, intense itch is the main symptom of scabies.
What causes a
This problem is caused by mites. Mites are small eight legged parasites (in contrast to insects, which have six legs).
They are tiny, just 1/3 millimeter long, and burrow into the skin. That’s what creates the intense itching, which tends to be worse at night.
The mites that infest humans are female. Scabies mites can be seen with a magnifying glass or microscope.
Similar to another pest, lice, the scabies mites crawl but are unable to fly or jump. They are immobile at temperatures below 68 degrees or (20C,) although they may still be able to survive for longer periods at these temperatures.
infestation happen everywhere across the world. They estimate about 300 million cases worldwide each year.
Human scabies infestations has been reported for over 2,500 years.
Scabies epidemics have been reported in nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities. It’s seen frequently in the homeless population, but occurs in all socioeconomic groups as well.
How do people get scabies?
Scabies mites are very sensitive to their environment. They can only live off of a host body for 24-36 hours under most conditions.
Transmission of the mites only happens from close person-to-person contact of the skin-to-skin variety.
Scabies are not really transmitted by shaking hands, clothes touching anothers, or even sharing bedclothes that had mites in them the night before.
Sexual physical contact is the main way scabies are transmitted. Sexual contact is the most common form of scabies transmission among sexually active young people, and scabies is now thought of as a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Actually, any form of physical contact, such as mothers hugging their children, are sufficient to spread the mites.
Close friends and relatives can contract mites this way, too. School settings don’t usually provide prolonged personal contact, necessary for mite transmission.
Can you catch scabies from your pets?
Dogs and cats are infected by completely different kinds of mites than those humans are. Animals are not a source of spreading scabies to us.
Scabies on dogs is called “mange.” When dog or cat type mites get on human skin, they fail to survive and only produce a mild itch that goes away on its own.
With human scabies, the itching gets worse and worse unless the condition is treated.
Scabies makes a skin rash that appears as small red bumps and blisters and affects specific areas of the body.
Scabies can show up almost anywhere between the fingers, wrists, back of the elbows, knees, around the waist and belly button.
In other words, just about anywhere on a persons body. The bumps may contain blood crusts. Not every bump you see is actually a bug.
In most cases of scabies infections, there are no more than 10-15 live mites, even even though there may be hundreds of bumps on the skin.
The scabies rash often shows up on the head, face, neck, palms, and soles of the feet in infants and very young children, but rarely in adults and older children.
Textbooks often describe scabies as “burrows” or “tunnels.” These tiny threadlike projections, appear as thin gray, brown, or red lines in affected areas.
Scratching the itching parts on the body actually destroys the burrows.
Symptoms may not appear for up to two months after being infested with the scabies mite. Even though symptoms don’t occur for that long, the infested person is still able to spread scabies during this time.
When symptoms finally do develop, itching is the most common symptom. The intensity of the itch of scabies is relentless and often gets worse over a period of weeks.
The itch can be much worse at night. For the first weeks, the itch is not that noticeable. Gradually it gets more intense until, after a month or two, the itch is so bad, sleep becomes almost impossible.
What makes the itch of scabies distinctive and different than poison ivy or lice, is its relentless consistency, after several weeks.
Other itchy skin conditions, like eczema or hives, tend to produce symptoms that come and go less often. But the scabies mite infestation can keep people from falling asleep at night and awaken the them in the middle of the night. They are that intense.
Scabies is detected by the typical rash and symptoms of unrelenting and worsening itch, particularly at night.
Doctors can make definitive diagnosis when evidence of mites is found from a “skin scraping” test.
With a scalpel blade over an area of a burrow and examining the scrapings microscopically, doctors can identify mites, eggs, or pellets.
This process can be difficult, since burrows can be hard to identify. Even the examination of scrapings from many burrows may only reveal one or two mites or eggs.
If the typical sign and symptoms are present, scabies will often be treated without performing the skin scrapings, necessary to identify the mites.
Witch Hazel and Tea Tree Oil Can Help Fight Scabies
Combine 10 ml of tea tree oil and 90 ml of distilled witch hazel and use as a lotion after taking a bath or shower.
Pure Lavender Oil Can Help Fight Scabies
Mix pure lavender oil with alcohol and apply to affected areas.
Neem Oil Can Help Fight Scabies
Neem oil is a botanical pesticide and therefore is very safe. Neem oil can be used for bathing purposes and direct application. Add 150 ml of neem oil to a bubble bath.
50 grams of neem oil mixed with turmeric, can make a nice antiseptic cream, that offers relief from the discomfort and itching.
Sulfur in petrolatum applied as a cream or ointment is one of the earliest known treatments for scabies. Sulfur is safe for use in pregnant women and infants.
Wash linens and bedclothes in hot water. Because mites don’t live long away from the body, it’s not necessary to dry-clean, or spray furniture and rugs.
Treat sexual contacts or relevant family members who have or may have symptoms.
Author: Steve Berchtold