Scabies is a common, extremely itchy rash caused by a small burrowing mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. These parasites eat the outer (epidermal) layer of the skin cannot be seen with the naked eye, their tiny burrows might be visible. When a person is initially infected it can take up to 8 weeks before the itching begins as it takes a while for the body to develop an allergic reaction to the mite. Scabies can affect anyone and it should be treated as quickly as possible to stop it spreading. People become infected with the mites either via prolonged direct skin contact with someone already infected or, less commonly, by using infested bath towels, clothing or bedding. Pets do not carry the mites that infect humans – the spread from animals to humans does not occur.
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WHAT CAUSES SCABIES?
Scabies is caused by small burrowing mites in the skin.
Scabies mites tend to favour warm and moist areas such as the external genitalia, beneath the breasts, between the buttock folds, webs of the fingers or toes and under the fingernails. However, they can be found residing anywhere on the body, though the face and neck are usually not affected.
Scabies are often spread by direct skin to skin contact with someone who has the condition. This must be prolonged contact, a quick handshake or hug usually isn’t enough to spread scabies.
WHAT ARE THE SYMTOMS/TYPES OF SCABIES?
Multiple tiny red insect bites in a row are the typical finding with scabies. The burrows created by the mites appear as small curves or lines which then may spread and turn into small spots. Due to the excessive itchiness, scaly inflamed scratch marks may also become visible, and scabies infestation often resembles severe eczema. The rash can appear anywhere on the body but often starts between the fingers.
Intense itching, particularly at night and in warm environments, is the main complaint with this condition. A raised rash or spots which are red in appearance are seen in scabies. There are generally no serious health consequences of uncomplicated scabies, but it is important to seek treatment quickly, otherwise symptoms can persist for months or even years.
A rare, highly-contagious, form of the disease referred to as crusted or Norwegian scabies, which involves extensive areas of the body being infested with a large number of mites can affect those whose natural defence mechanisms are weakened such as people who have cancer or AIDS.
HOW CAN SCABIES BE TREATED?
The most well-established treatment for scabies involves the application of a medicated cream containing permethrin, which is highly effective at killing the mites. However, if this fails to work another lotion containing a medication known as malathion can be used.
Due to the fact that the symptoms are caused by an allergic reaction it can take some time after the eradication of the mite before the itching completely disappears.
For the more severe, crusted form of scabies a tablet-medication called Ivermectin is given.
For further information please visit the NHS website and read the British Association of Dermatology Patient leaflet.
It is important to avoid close bodily contact or the sharing of items that have been used by others during treatment to prevent re-infection. We also advise all close contacts (household members and sexual contacts) to undergo treatment, even if they have no symptoms, to prevent the condition recurring.
Scabies treatments we offer include:
Medicated cream containing permethrin
Lotion containing malathion
Oral tablet medication Ivermectin
WHY TREAT YOUR SCABIES AT STRATUM DERMATOLOGY CLINICS?
We understand the impact that skin conditions can have on your confidence and we are here to help. As scabies is a contagious skin condition that can be easily passed on from person to person, it is vital to get diagnosis and treatment as quickly as possible.
We work with leading experts in the field of dermatology to ensure you have the best experience and treatment. Stratum Dermatology Clinics are regulated by the Care Quality Commission, are part of the British Association of Dermatologists and are top rated by patients on Doctify so you can assure safe and effective acne treatment with us.
Hear from one of our recent patients
Really helpful and pleasant staff, made to feel welcome and relaxed. Seen without delay and treatment explained in a clear, concise manner.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Wash all the bedding and clothing in the house at a high temperature on the first day of treatment
- Put any clothing that cannot be washed into a sealed bag for 3 days until the mites die
- Stop babies and children from sucking the treatment lotion from their hands by putting mittens on them
- Don’t have sex or close physical contact until the course of treatment is finished
- Don’t share bedding, clothing or towels with someone with scabies
You will be able to go back to school/work 24 hours after the first treatment. It may take a couple of weeks for the itching to stop even after the mites have died.
No, scabies has nothing to do with poor hygiene, anyone can get it. Scabies is contagious and can spread easily from skin to skin contact so this should be avoided until treatment is complete.
You cannot get scabies from pets.
The burrows of scabies typically are seen in folds of skin. Even though any part of the body can be affected, the rashes are most often found:
- between the fingers
- in the armpits
- around the waist
- on the inside of the wrists
- on the inner elbows
- on the soles of the feet
- around the breasts
- around the genitals
- on the buttocks
- on the knees
In young children, it is also common to see rashes
- on the scalp
- palms of the hands
- soles of the feet
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