Scabies Causes Symptoms and Solutions Your Questions Answered
Battling a skin condition can be frustrating, tiresome, and even embarrassing. Many skin conditions leave your skin looking red and inflamed, and it’s easy to become discouraged when trying to treat a nasty skin disease. Scabies is a particularly uncomfortable skin condition, but with the right treatment, it can be overcome. In this post, we’ll talk about the symptoms of scabies, walk you through the possible causes, and suggest some viable treatment options.
What is scabies?
Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. The mites reproduce on the surface of the skin, where they can survive for several months. They then burrow into the skin and lay eggs, resulting in raised bumps and an extremely itchy rash. The mites are often simply referred to as “itch mites.”
What are the symptoms of scabies?
Scabies can often be confused with other skin conditions since the symptoms are similar. Scabies symptoms include red bumps and an itchy rash; what sets scabies apart, however, is that scabies causes intense and persistent itching that worsens at night. It is also very contagious. The scabies rash may appear anywhere on the body, but it is most common on the wrists and elbows, in the armpits, around the ankles, on the waist and buttocks, between the fingers, and around the nipples. The rash may also appear on the genitals.
How does scabies spread?
Scabies can be spread by
- Skin-to-skin contact
- Sexual contact
- Contact with infested clothing
- Contact with infested sheets
How long do scabies mites or itch mites live?
On a person, the mites can survive for as long as two months. If not on a person, they generally die within 48 to 72 hours.
What should I do if I have scabies?
The first thing you should do when you recognize you have scabies is promptly wash your clothing and sheets. According to the CDC, scabies mites on clothing or sheets will die if exposed to a temperature of 122 degrees fahrenheit for ten minutes. While it is less common to become infected with scabies through contact with affected clothing or sheets, it is still possible, particularly with Norwegian scabies. The mites can live and multiply, so quickly killing them with hot water and soap is wise.
Taking a cold shower may help soothe the skin. Interestingly, hot showers may actually result in worse itching since hot water can dry out the skin.
What is the best treatment for scabies?
The best way to eliminate scabies is to find a treatment that kills the mites and the eggs that cause the rash. There are creams and medications that can be applied to the skin to help kill the mites. Often, doctors may also recommend oral medication for people who are in frequent contact with someone affected by scabies. There are a number of other medications and treatments including antihistamines and topical ointments.
Here are some of the best treatments for scabies:
- Topical medication left on the skin for several hours to kill the mites
- Oral medication
- Topical ointments to soothe itching and reduce scarring
- Calamine Lotion
- Home remedies like tea tree oil, neem oil, aloe vera, cayenne pepper, and clove oil
What else should I know about scabies?
- Scabies can not be spread from an animal to a human.
- There is a severe variety of scabies called crusted scabies or Norwegian scabies
- Scabies can be spread even before symptoms manifest
- Scabies symptoms can take up to six weeks to manifest in those who’ve never had the disease previously
- It can take up to four weeks of treatment for scabies to begin clearing up
What are the big takeaways?
Scabies is a very contagious skin condition that annually affects over one million people in the United States. The disease can cause extreme discomfort and itching, but it is treatable. You should always consult with your doctor before beginning treatment; when you find the right treatment, you can soothe your skin and eliminate the disease.