Scabies is a highly contagious skin infection caused by the itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei. This infection transmitted primarily through skin-to-skin contact is characterized by severe and relentless itch. It is considered as a sexually transmitted disease. This disease is quite common and around 300 million cases are being reported every year worldwide. The small eight-legged parasites causing scabies is not visible to the naked eye. They are visible under a magnifying glass or microscope. When the itch mite burrows into the top layer of skin, the skin reacts causing an extremely itchy rash. An efficient dermatologist can help you recover within a short term.

What are the symptoms of scabies?

In those who never had scabies symptoms usually develop within 6 weeks after the infection. Those who have a previous history of scabies show up symptoms within a couple of days. Hands, feet, elbows, the areas around the breasts, genitals, navel, and buttocks are usually affected by scabies.

Common symptoms include,

  • Rashes, blisters or pus-filled bumps
  • Sores and thick crusts on the skin
  • Severe itching that gets worse at night

How is scabies diagnosed?

Consult a doctor/ dermatologist if you suspect scabies. Doctor would take a small portion of the infected skin for thorough examination. This would be checked under microscope for scabies mites.

How is scabies treated?

If the itch mites are detected in your skin, the doctor may prescribe medicated cream or lotion to kill the mites. This medication should be applied all over the body. Let the medication remain on the skin for 8-12 hours. If you develop skin infection like impetigo along with scabies, doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Permethrin 5% cream (Elimite) and ivermectin tablets (Stromectol) are used to treat scabies. Permethrin treatment is less expensive as compared to ivermectin tablets. Topical steroid creams such as hydrocortisone are prescribed to treat severe scabies infection. Efficient treatment can relieve the symptoms within 24-48 hours.

Is there any way to prevent scabies?

  • Avoid close contact with infected person.
  • Wash cloths, beddings and towels in hot water.
  • If you have scabies, treatment needs to be sought by you and everyone in your close circle even if they don’t have scabies.