The Sarcoptes scabiei is a tiny skin mite that cannot be seen by the naked eye. This mite is responsible for causing an itchy skin condition known as scabies. Millions of cases of scabies occur globally every year. Scabies can affect any individual of any age or race, regardless of personal hygiene.
Once the mite burrows in between the skin layers, the body develops a reaction which includes severe itchiness. The itchiness is often severe that it can keep the individual awake at night and can lead to skin infections.
How scabies spread
It is important to note that human scabies is spread from one individual to another usually through close contact. Some individuals react severely than others. The female mite is drawn to a new host and creates a burrow to lay eggs as well as generating secretions that triggers an allergic reaction.
The larvae hatch from the eggs and move up to the surface of the skin, usually situated in superficial pockets where they grow into adult mites. It usually takes 4-6 weeks before a newly infected individual will notice itching or swelling which indicates the presence of scabies.
The earliest and most common symptom of scabies is itchiness especially at night time. An early scabies rash will appear as small-sized, red-colored bumps similar to hives. In advanced cases, the skin can become scaly or crusty.
Scabies typically start in the folds and crevices of the body especially between the fingers, on the wrists, under the arms, around the nipples, on the penis, belt line or buttocks. The mites also tend to hide in or on the skin beneath bracelets, rings or watchbands as well as under the nails. Take note that the face and head are not affected except in children or those with weakened immune systems.
Once an individual is diagnosed with scabies, it is vital to start the appropriate treatment. You have to carefully apply Elimite cream on all the skin from the head up to the soles of the feet. It is important to apply this all over the body. Do not forget to apply in between the fingers and toe creases, folds of the wrist and waistline, belly button, cleft of the buttocks and on the genitals. In addition, keep the nails of the individual short since the mites might hide beneath the fingernails.
Allow the cream to stay overnight and remove it by bathing. In most cases, there is minor itchiness, burning or stinging after the application. Take note that this is only a transitory reaction to the medication.
The effectiveness of this treatment is high with just one application. It is usual for the rash and itching to persist as long as 2-4 weeks after treatment. In some individuals, a second application a week after is often recommended.
An alternate treatment for scabies is the oral ivermectin pills. This is a new form of treatment that is considered effective. It is not yet widely used for usual cases of scabies, but useful for outbreaks. Some of the older remedies such as Kwell are considered too toxic for regular use, but effective if Elimite cream fails.