SCABIES - Symptoms and Treatments

The skin problem referred to as scabies is fairly common, but many people do not really know what this skin condition is all about. It is essentially a skin infection that is caused by a specific type of mite.

Visit the what does scabies look like page for more information.

The scientific name for the mite is Sarcoptes Scabiei. These mites are problematic for humans and in particular the skin of humans because they tunnel just below the skin’s surface and burrow themselves in the skin. Once in the skin, these parasitic female mites feed on human blood. They eventually lay their eggs in the skin burrows or tunnels they have formed.

After about a 21-day period, larvae hatch from the mite eggs and then live under the skin’s surface. These new mites create other burrows in the skin and develop into adults, lay eggs, and then the cycle continues unless appropriate treatments are used. The mites can also go back to the surface of the skin where they can spread to other skin areas.

The mites that cause this skin problem, can also be spread to other people with direct skin-to-skin or bodily contact. The mites do not spread from person to person by jumping. Even the simple act of shaking hands can spread the mites from an infected individual to a non-infected one. Close contact with or sharing personal articles such as clothing, towels, or bed linen, can also spread the mites from person to person, although this type of spreading is usually less common than direct skin contact. Therefore, this skin problem is a very contagious skin care problem. A person remains contagious until the mites and eggs are destroyed with treatments.

The mites that cause this skin problem are tiny and usually are not readily visible with the naked eye. They tend to have a greyish appearance and are nearly transparent. A proper diagnosis by a physician will help to determine if the mites are present.

Mites need to feed on blood and need the warmth of the human body to survive. They generally die after about 48 hours without a human host at standard room temperature conditions, although they have survived several days longer under more favourable controlled conditions.

Anyone is susceptible to this skin problem. Males or females, young or old, and all races can get a rash from this skin condition. This problem is also not a question of personal cleanliness because individuals that bath regularly are not any less susceptible to the mites than those people who do not. It is not a skin disease associated with poverty and/or poor personal hygiene.

Although scabies can occur sporadically, often this skin disease occurs in outbreaks. It is common among people that live in crowded conditions or among people where close physical contact occurs on a regular basis. Problematic areas are usually nursing homes, childcare centers, classrooms – especially the kindergarten grades, and other types of similar institutions. Other family members often get infected once one member gets scabies.

Common misinformation about this skin condition is with respect to pets such as dogs, cats, other pets, or even common farm animals. These animals can be infected with mites that cause scabies, but these are not the same type of mites that affect humans. An animal, if infected with mites, is infected by mites specific for that particular animal. These mites can produce minor symptoms in the skin of humans, but the minor symptoms will generally disappear on their own after the mites die off. More information on symptoms can be found at this link or the pictures link. Usually a treatment is not required and a full-blown scabies problem usually does not develop under these circumstances.



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