Scabies

What is scabies?

Scabies is a condition of the skin caused by a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin, creating an allergic reaction. This is followed by severe itching and the development of a rash with small red bumps, tiny bites or pimples. As the condition advances, the skin may become crusty. It normally begins in folds and crevices of the body such as between the fingers, on elbows or wrists, buttocks or belt line. Mites also tend to be found on skin under rings or watch bands and in some cases under the nails. Scabies is almost always passed from one person to another, especially those who have close contact with one another. In families, children under two are most at risk. Individuals living in close contact conditions such as soldiers, prisoners, those in convalescent homes, and children in day care centers are very susceptible. Scabies is not caused by poor hygiene as is sometimes thought.

What is the treatment for scabies?

Scabies treatment consists of getting rid of the mites that cause the condition. Even when individuals in a group are not showing symptoms of scabies, all those in close contact with someone who has the condition must be treated at the same time in order to avoid an epidemic. Treatment of this condition is rapid and effective using one of the following prescriptions under the direction of a dermatologist:

  • Permethrin (Elimite) applied to the entire body at bedtime and washed off the next morning
  • Sulfur ointment
  • Antihistimines may be prescribed for itching

Tips for dealing with scabies:

  • Seek treatment from a dermatologist as soon as possible for this condition.
  • Wash clothing, towels, and bed linens in very hot water. Machine dry.
  • Vacuum the entire house and discard the vacuum bag.
  • Do not attempt to treat scabies with home remedies.
  • Do not use any topical preparations unless prescribed by a dermatologist.