Scabies

Apr 1, 2015
2015 / March 2015

Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, a microscopic burrowing mite. The scabies mite tunnels into the upper layer of the skin, where it lives and lays eggs. Scabies occurs worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes. It is contagious and spreads rapidly under crowded conditions where close body contact is frequent, with outbreaks often occurring in families, child day care centers, extended-care facilities, prisons, schools, college dorms and nursing homes.

The mites often begin to cause symptoms first at the site where they enter the body. Transmission during sexual intercourse may cause skin lesions on the penis, vaginal area or groin; however, scabies is not always a sexually transmitted disease and may be acquired through any skin-to-skin contact.

Less commonly, infestation happens through the sharing of clothes and bedding. Theoretically, a person can get scabies from touching something the mite is on, but this is not a major mode of transmission. The mite only lives for two to three days away from human skin. Human scabies is not spread by contact with animals or pets.

Symptoms appear two to six weeks after a person is infested; however, in people who have had scabies before, symptoms appear in one to four days. The most common symptoms are intense itching, especially at night, and a pimplelike skin rash. You will see thin, irregular, pencil-like burrow tracks made of tiny blisters or bumps on your skin. In adults, scabies can be found between fingers, in armpits, around the waist, along the insides of wrists and elbows, on the soles of the feet, around breasts, around the male genital area, on buttocks, on knees and on shoulder blades. In children, common sites of infestation include the scalp, face and neck, palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Immune suppression or old age may predispose patients to more extensive disease. In crusted (Norwegian) scabies, the body is covered with a thick, dry, scaly rash which may or may not itch; it contains thousands to millions of mites. Crusted scabies is the most contagious form and the hardest to treat. Other skin rashes may look like scabies, including allergic drug reactions, contact dermatitis and viral rashes such as shingles.

The intense itching of scabies leads to scratching, which can cause skin breakdown and a secondary infection such as impetigo. The sores become infected with skin bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or Beta-Hemolytic Streptococci. Sometimes the bacterial infection can lead to an inflammation of the kidneys called post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

If you think you have scabies, see your physician or dermatologist. While waiting at home for your appointment, try over-the-counter remedies to reduce itching, such as cool water, antihistamines and calamine lotion. Ask your pediatrician which medications or lotions are safe for your baby or child. Your physician will examine your skin from head to toe for burrows or the characteristic rash and may take a skin specimen (through a painless scraping) to send to a lab for microscopic inspection for mites or eggs.

Scabies treatment involves eliminating the infestation with prescription scabicide creams and lotions which you apply all over your body from your neck down and leave on for eight hours. A second treatment is needed if new burrows and rash appear. Because scabies spreads so easily, family members, sexual partners and other close contacts may need treatment even if they show no symptoms.

Medications commonly prescribed for scabies include Permethrin 5%, Lindane and Crotamiton. Permethrin (Elimite) contains chemicals that kill the mites and eggs and is generally considered safe for children and adults of all ages, including women who are pregnant or nursing. Your health care provider may recommend you apply this cream twice, with a week between applications.

Lindane is also a chemical treatment in a cream, lotion or shampoo. It is not safe for children younger than 2 years, women who are pregnant or nursing or those with a weakened immune system. Crotaminton (Eurax) is a non-chemical medication that is applied once a day for two to five days, often recommended for babies.

Although these medications kill mites and their eggs immediately, the itching may last for several weeks. Health care providers sometimes prescribe an oral medication, ivermectin (Stromectol), for people with altered immune systems, those with crusted scabies or people who do not respond to prescription lotions. Continue to cool and soak your skin with a wet wash cloth to reduce itching, apply a soothing lotion like calamine and take an antihistamine. Most cases are cured without long-term problems. A severe case with a lot of scaling or crusting may indicate a disease such as HIV.

Since mites cannot survive outside the human body for more than 72 hours, wash all clothing, towels and bedding you have used for the three days before treatment in hot, soapy water. Dry with high heat in your clothes dryer. Dry-clean items you cannot wash at home. Vacuum all carpeting, rugs and furniture; discard the vacuum bags or clean the canister with hot, soapy water. Starve the mites by placing items you cannot wash in a sealed plastic bag and leaving it in the garage for a couple of weeks. Pets do not need to be treated because the mites only live on humans.

Usually adults and children can return to work, school or child care the day after starting treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend contacting local and state health departments for guidance pertaining to workplace restrictions for persons with scabies.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Daily
Sep 20, 2019

Catch Autumn at the Arboretum in Dallas

Attend one of the most acclaimed fall events, Autumn at the Arboretum, in Dallas. In its 14th year, the annual event is known as one of the best pumpkin festivals in the country, with its creative displays featuring more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash. The event takes place at Dallas Arboretum, Sept. 21 –Oct. 31. Alongside thousands of pumpkins, guests glimpse 150,000 autumn flowers across the 66-acre space.

To New Heights

United Airlines announces a number of new routes.

Feature
Sep 19, 2019

Wilderness Safaris Reopens Jao Camp

Following a complete renovation, Wilderness Safaris’ Jao Camp reopened in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

News
Sep 19, 2019

Best U.S. Cities for Oktoberfest Celebrations

WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 24 key metrics to determine the best destinations for an upcoming Oktoberfest celebration. The brand’s study found the estimated cost for an American to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is $5,000. Munich boasts a $1.43 billion annual economic impact on Munich. During Oktoberfest, nearly 2 million gallons of beer are consumed and more than 510,000 whole roast chickens eaten.

TAP Air Portugal Adds 15 Flights Each Week From U.S., Canada

TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020,  a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.

Feature
Sep 19, 2019

Qantas Will Start Using a Dreamliner on Santiago–Sydney Route

Qantas will start using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its Sydney–Santiago route starting in late June 2020.

eFlyer News
Sep 18, 2019

New Luxury Hotel Set to Open in China

A new hotel is slated to open in the capital of China’s Guangxi Province.

The Island of the Knights

Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.

eFlyer News
Sep 18, 2019

LOT Polish Airlines Adds New Route to Delhi

LOT Polish Airlines is offering travellers more options for travel between Asia and Europe.