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Experienced Scabies Specialist at Dermatology and Skin Health

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What is Scabies?

Scabies is an itchy skin infestation caused by a microscopic mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei var hominis. This mite is a tiny, eight-legged creature with a round body that can burrow into the skin. 

The adult female mites are drawn to the human skin by warmth and odor. They can easily reproduce on the skin surface and lay their eggs. Larvae will hatch from the eggs and travel to the skin, hiding in shallow pockets where they will soon grow into adult mites.

Scabies infection can cause redness and severe itching that typically gets worse at night and can disturb a person’s sleep. It may also develop an itchy rash which can create sores and tiny blisters when scratched excessively. Unlike other skin conditions, human scabies is contagious and can be spread to other people. 

Symptoms of Scabies 

Most scabies sufferers can develop initial symptoms within a few days of exposure to the tiny mite. The earliest and most common symptom of this skin condition is intense itching, especially in the evenings. 

An early scabies rash may appear as small red bumps that resemble a pimple. In patients with weak immune systems, the skin surrounding the rash may look dry, crusty, or scaly.  You may also notice some raised lines or burrows on the skin. This tunnel-like feature is created by the female mites where they deposit their eggs inside. 

In older children and young adults, the signs of scabies rash usually begin in the folds or crevices of the body. Some of the common sites where you can notice a rash are between the fingers, wrists, elbows, and buttocks. It can also appear around the nipples for women and on the penis for men. 

Meanwhile, for toddlers and infants, scabies infestation can involve the entire body, head, face, neck, palms, soles, and scalps. Instead of a painful rash, they usually experience a more generalized itching which can disturb their sleep at night. 

Schedule Your Consultation Now at Dermatology & Skin Health

At Dermatology & Skin Health, we offer world-class services done by award-winning doctors who have proven their knowledge and skills in this field. Start your journey towards achieving your best skin by contacting us today.

How Do You Get Scabies? 

The infestation of scabies mites is the number one culprit for the appearance of skin rashes. It can be acquired via direct close contact with another person who is already infected by the scabies mite. Prolonged, skin-to-skin contact is required to transfer the mite to your skin. 

Scabies can also be spread through sexual activities. If your sexual partner has scabies, it’s highly likely that having close physical contact with them can transfer the parasite to your skin. Additionally, this infectious disease can be spread by sharing clothing, bed sheets, towels, and blankets with an infected person. 

Risk Factors for Scabies 

The risk of having scabies increases if you’re living closely with people who are already infected. It’s easier for scabies to spread in crowded homes and it can affect children and mothers of infants. Children under 2 years of age and immunocompromised individuals are also at high risk of infection. 

Scabies is also a common problem in nursing homes and healthcare facilities where there are a lot of elderly people. Employees who also work closely and care for infected people are also at greater risk of having scabies infestation. 

Different Types of Scabies 

Although there’s only one mite that can start a scabies infestation, this skin condition can be classified into several types: 

Classical Scabies  

This is the most common form of human scabies that causes an uncomfortable rash on the skin.  Its symptoms are usually localized on the hands and wrists and do not affect other areas like the scalp and the face. 

Norwegian Scabies

This type of skin disease is also known as crusted scabies. This usually affects elderly people, disabled patients, and other immunocompromised individuals. Unlike typical scabies, the symptoms of Norwegian scabies are usually more severe and can be accompanied by burrows or crusts of skin that are home to millions of adult mites. 

Crusted scabies usually develops on large areas of the body, hands, and feet. Patients with this type of skin infection should avoid close contact with other people since it’s extremely contagious. They should also receive immediate medical treatment to prevent more serious outbreaks of scabies in their homes. 

Nodular Scabies  

This sub-variant of scabies is more common among young children. Instead of a small reddish bump, the symptoms of nodular scabies look like dark brown to red papules and firm nodules. They can appear larger than the rash of typical scabies and they are more widespread in the genital regions. Nodular scabies can last for months and may return after receiving treatment. 

Bullous Scabies 

This is a rare form of scabies but it can happen among infected adults. Its symptoms are closely similar to bullous pemphigoid which is another skin condition that causes blisters. They can appear on the arms, legs, thighs, buttocks, and genitals. 

Are Scabies Mites Visible on the Skin?  

A scabies mite has a diameter of 0.30 mm so they can be a bit difficult to detect with the naked eye. Under a microscope, their bodies can look white to creamy-white in color and they have eight legs. 

The best way to know if you have scabies mite living on your body is to look for burrows on the skin surface. These burrows can contain at least 2 dozen eggs that will later hatch and grow to cause further skin irritation. 

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Where Can Scabies Mites Be Found On Your Body? 

Scabies mites are usually present on the upper layers of the skin. Some of the common infestation sites for these mites are: 

  • Folds between the fingers and toes
  • Crevices in the thighs and genital areas 
  • Wrists, elbows, and inner knees 
  • Around the hips and waistline 
  • Soles of the feet
  • Around the breasts 
  • Buttocks 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Scabies

Many scabies symptoms can be diagnosed by a dermatologist through visual skin examination of the burrows and the appearance of the rash. In some cases, a test may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. 

If there’s a noticeable burrow, a dermatologist may get a skin scraping of the infected site. The skin will be analyzed under a microscope to confirm the presence of adult mites and eggs.  

For effective scabies treatment, the infestation should be completely eliminated with use of medications like: 

Permethrin cream

The most common prescription medication is 5% permethrin cream. This topical treatment is applied to the skin from head to toe at night and washed off the following morning. This cream will effectively kill the existing mites and get rid of the eggs.

The only reported side effect of 5% permethrin cream is temporary burning and stinging sensation, which is more common if you have severe scabies. All skin lesions should be healed within 4 weeks after the treatment. If symptoms persist or if you get reinfected, you should get a follow-up treatment with your dermatologist. 

Ivermectin 

Medications like oral ivermectin can be recommended for people with crusted scabies and altered immune systems. This medication may have some side effects like fever, chills, rash, and headache. 

Is Scabies a Contagious Skin Disorder? 

Yes, human scabies is contagious and is almost always transferred when you come into contact with an infected patient. Getting treatment is necessary to prevent the spread of scabies in the home. Other tips that can help stop scabies infestation are: 

  • Wash all clothing, bed linens, and towels in hot water and then dry the items with high heat. 
  • Put the items that you can’t wash in a sealed plastic container and store them away from your home. This can help starve the mites and treat a hidden infestation indoors. 
  • Avoid intimate contact with your sexual partner until they have received successful  treatment for scabies. 
  • Use your own towels and beddings and don’t share items with an infected individual.  
Schedule Your Consultation Now at Dermatology & Skin Health

At Dermatology & Skin Health, we offer world-class services done by award-winning doctors who have proven their knowledge and skills in this field. Start your journey towards achieving your best skin by contacting us today.

Consult with Our Scabies Specialist Today at Dermatology and Skin Health 

Don’t let your skin become a permanent home for the scabies mites and get the right treatment at Dermatology and Skin Health. Our board-certified dermatologists can help provide accurate diagnoses and recommend the best solutions to eliminate the mites and improve your skin condition. Contact us today and request a consultation with one of our specialists to start your treatment.

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