How Do You Get Scabies

What Is Scabies

The intense itching that disrupts sleep at night, accompanied by itchy bumps or thin marks on the skin known as burrows, are characteristic symptoms of scabies. This condition arises from an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite, Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis. These microscopic mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin to lay their eggs, leading to the development of a pimple-like rash and severe itching.

Scabies is typically transmitted through direct and prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infested individual. It can affect people of all races and social classes and is prevalent worldwide. The spread of scabies is facilitated in crowded conditions where close body contact is frequent, such as in nursing homes, extended-care facilities, prisons, and child-care facilities. Therefore, these environments are often the sites of scabies outbreaks.

How Do You Get Scabies

Scabies is typically spread through direct, prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infested individual. Brief physical contact like a handshake or hug is usually not sufficient for transmission. However, scabies can be easily transmitted to sexual partners and household members due to close and prolonged contact. In adults, scabies is often sexually acquired. Indirect spread through shared items like clothing, towels, or bedding is also possible, especially when the infested individual has crusted scabies.

Scabies is caused by a tiny mite that burrows under the skin. It spreads through contact with an infected person, their clothing, or other personal items. The infestation tends to affect partners, entire families, or groups of people in close contact, such as classrooms.

How Is Scabies Infestation Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a scabies infestation is typically based on the characteristic appearance and distribution of the rash, as well as the presence of burrows. However, it is recommended to confirm the diagnosis by identifying the scabies mite, its eggs, or fecal matter whenever possible. This can be achieved by carefully extracting a mite from the end of its burrow using a needle tip or by collecting skin scrapings for microscopic examination.

It’s essential to note that a person may still be infested even if mites, eggs, or fecal matter are not immediately found. In healthy individuals, there may be fewer than 10-15 mites present on the entire body. However, individuals with crusted scabies can harbor thousands of mites and should be considered highly contagious.

Scabies
Scabies

How To Treated Scabies

To effectively treat scabies, scabicides are used, which are products specifically designed to kill scabies mites and sometimes their eggs. It’s important to note that scabicides for human use are available only with a doctor’s prescription; there are no over-the-counter products approved for humans.

When using scabicide cream or lotion, it should be applied to all areas of the body from the neck down to the feet and toes in adults and older children. For infants and young children, the cream or lotion should also be applied to the head and neck. Following application, the medication should be left on the body for the recommended duration before being washed off. After treatment, clean clothes should be worn.

In addition to treating the infested individual, it’s advisable to treat household members and sexual contacts, especially those who have had prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the infested person. Treating all individuals simultaneously helps prevent reinfestation. Retreatment may be necessary if itching persists beyond 2-4 weeks after treatment or if new burrows or rash continue to appear.

It’s crucial never to use scabicides intended for veterinary or agricultural use to treat humans.

How to Prevent Scabies

Prescription creams or lotions such as Elimite or Kwell. Wash all clothing and bedding that came into contact during the previous five days in hot water, then dry in high heat to kill mites. Treat all infected family members at the same time and repeat the treatment after seven days.

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