Caused by a parasitic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei, scabies is a skin disease that can be spread from one person to another through prolonged contact. Scabies mites thrive on human blood and they like to "snuggle" in a person's warm body where they can best survive. If taken out of the human body, scabies mites die in just two days.
Parasitic mites are very tiny parasites, which are visible only through the microscope. They tunnel deep in the skin causing skin eruptions in the form of small pimples. These parasites cause unbearable itching, particularly during nighttime. Scratching the itchy skin can cause open cracks, and infection may set in.
Anyone in any part of the world can be infected with scabies. And since it is highly contagious, it can spread in the entire household and hold each member of the family a victim. In order to totally get rid of scabies, every member of the household must be treated.
Prevention of scabies is easier than the cure. Scabies is not really a disease but an infestation that needs to be checked before it can completely invade. Take note of the following for prevention tips:
- Keep away from people with scabies. This means no skin contact and no sexual intercourse or huddling and cuddling with someone who has scabies symptoms.
- Make sure family members do not share used towels or linens, sheets and clothes as these items can spread skin diseases including scabies.
- If there's someone in the family who is infested with scabies, have everyone use anti-mite creams and lotions to prevent the mites from spreading.
- Keep the house clean, dust free and well ventilated.
- Don't allow pets on sofas and beds.
- Disinfect blankets, towels, clothes and sheets by washing them in hot water and drying them in the dryer with the hot setting on. You may also want to iron the clothes after drying to ensure 100% protection.
- If scabies worsens or does not get well even after treatment for a couple of weeks, go to the doctor (preferably a dermatologist) and seek further medical advice.
Take note that a person who already had previous cases of scabies will immediately have symptoms even just days after infestation. On the other hand, a person who has never suffered from scabies will manifest signs only after four to six weeks from the time he got infected.
Lotions and creams used in killing mites contain chemicals that can be harmful to babies and pregnant women. Therefore, if you are going to seek medical advice when getting rid of mites, inform the doctor about a pregnant member or a baby in the family. In such cases, the doctor might decide to pass up treatment in the meantime to protect these family members, and just advise everyone to avoid close physical contact with infested family members.
If scratching results in an open wound, dress the wound and seek a doctor's prescription for medication. If left open and untreated, the wound might worsen and cause complications.