Just like whooping cough, the condition known as scabies is often thought of as an illness that might have been present 300 years ago but has no presents in modern life. This is not so. Scabies are microscopic mites that are contagious usually by coming into contact – skin on skin – with someone else who has scabies. The mites can cause intense itching and a red rash that includes small red pimples on your skin.
The scabies mite is found all around the globe and has no preference for age, gender, race, or social status. Anyone can contract scabies which often becomes a menace in certain settings, like homes for the aged, prisons, or schools.
A quick diagnosis of scabies can be made based on the appearance of the pimples and the burrows under the skin. Scabies near the surface of the skin and the mites move around creating burrows in the process. If necessary, doctors can use a needle to pierce the skin and remove the mite from its borrow. The laboratory can then examine the specimen. A diagnosis can also be made by examining the mite’s fecal matter, called scybala, which is also present in the burrow.
Scabies mites are contagious, as noted above. The mites transfer from the skin of one person to the skin of another by direct contact. It is technically not a sexually transmitted disease, but close contact of any kind makes the transfer possible, including sexual contact. The transfer of mites is not generally immediate, so prolonged contact is the most common way for a transfer to take place.
Symptoms and Characteristics
The symptoms, as noted, include a red rash with pimples and burrows under the skin. Scabies is also extremely itchy and can appear to come on very suddenly. This is because an infection at first often does not show any symptoms at all. The incubation period for scabies mites is 4-8 weeks.
Treating scabies requires the use of a prescribed scabicide lotion or cream that should be applied from your head to your toes. The lotion, however, should not be used to treat young children or infants. There are treatments safe for younger children or infants. With very young children internal medical doctors in San Diego might recommend permethrin or sulfur ointment, but it is highly advised that you consult your doctor before applying any remedy to a child.
The intense itching that occurs with scabies is due to an allergic reaction to the mites or to their feces or both. As such, while treatment may rid you of the scabies mites, the itching could persist for another two weeks or longer. Also, it is recommended that anyone who regularly comes into contact with a person with scabies should be treated as well to kill the infection even before symptoms appear. Also, it is advised that the infected person and other family members or close connections and sexual partners should be treated and wash bedding and clothes in hot soapy water. After a wash in hot water, the clothes and bedding should be dried in a hot drier to prevent becoming infected again.
San Diego internal medicine doctors at Pacific Medical Care are available to diagnose and treat skin conditions such as scabies. Call 619-333-8114 for an appointment.