The infestation of mites or Sarcoptes Scabiei var. Hominis on human skin, can cause scabies which is a very contagious skin infection that can affect anyone. There have been over 300 million cases of scabies worldwide every year, with a million of these cases in the U.S. Scabies is often transmitted by skin to skin contact with a person who is infested with the mites. It can also be transmitted through dust, the sharing of clothes and bedding, or by simply touching whatever may be infested with the mites. The longer a person is exposed to an infested person, the higher the risk of getting infested as well. Sadly, scabies is also common among children, so immediate treatment and prevention are always encouraged to reduce the risk of scabies.
Scabies: Who Are At Risk?
People of all ages, ethnicities, sexes and socioeconomic levels can suffer from scabies. Fortunately, scabies is not caused by poor personal hygiene, but due to crowded living conditions and in environments where there is constant close contact. Scabies can be spread in areas such as –
- College Dorms
- Childcare Centers
- Nursing Homes
Scabies is contagious, but it requires prolonged skin to skin contact with an infested person. Contact through limited handshakes and hugs do not usually spread it. It can also be passed to others even when the infested person does not have any symptoms as yet. Severe scabies are often found among –
- Malnourished people
- Elderly people
- Very young children
- People with weak immune systems
- People who are disabled or physically and mentally impaired
This is why it is best to be treated right away even before symptoms develop when you know that you have been exposed to someone with scabies.
How To Determine If You Have Scabies
It takes between four and six weeks before the first signs of scabies develop, while cases of re-infections develop symptoms of scabies within 24 hours. The first signs of scabies look like small insect bite marks or pimples on the skin. The skin can redden and develop sores due to infection when they are scratched. Small ‘S’ shaped tracks or burrows can also be found on the skin that indicate the movements of mites under the skin. However, these burrows are very small, that they often overlooked, so as long as intense itching is experienced, you need to consult with a doctor immediately. The itching usually worsens in warm temperatures and during the night as these are the conditions when the mites feed and trigger allergic reactions with their saliva.
Scabies can often be found in these areas of the body –
- Genital area
- Back of knees
- Inner elbows, inner wrists and armpits
- Waist and navel
- Under breasts
- Between fingers and toes
- Face and neck
Treatment And Prevention Of Scabies
To treat scabies, prescription medication and over the counter medication is needed. Some medications include precipitated sulfur, permethrin, lindane and crotamiton. It is also essential to prevent re-infestation to avoid severe scabies and spreading the infestation inside the home. You can prevent scabies from returning through general household cleaning and washing, then drying all clothes, sheets, bedding and other items in hot settings. It is also important that you discard the vacuum bag sealed after cleaning and hiring the services of a pest control professional to help get rid and prevent infestations.
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About the Author: Valerie Banks is a freelance writer specializing in health and well being. She offers information about various skin diseases and other health condition caused by pests and recommendsfor professional services to prevent pest infestations in homes.