What Are The Symptoms Of Scabies?
If you are looking for the symptoms of scabies, chances are, you are already feeling the itch. Scabies is a highly contagious, ridiculously itchy skin condition that is caused by sarcoptes scabiei, otherwise known as the itch mite. These tiny parasites are only about one-third millimeter long, have eight legs and burrow themselves into your skin which is what actually causes the itching.
Interestingly, mites that infest a female are twice as large as those that make themselves at home on males. They can crawl but they are unable to jump or fly and are immobile in cold temperatures although they can still survive for extended periods of time.
It is estimated that 300 million individuals every year worldwide find themselves looking up symptoms of scabies. This is a very common infestation that has been plaguing the Earth for at least 2,500 years. It is an epidemic that is exceptionally widespread in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term facilities as well as in the homeless population.
Transmission Of Scabies
Scabies is transferred by way of direct skin contact. The mites are extremely environmental sensitive and can only live off of their host for up to 36 hours. While scabies is highly contagious it is quite rare that you catch the condition by shaking someone's hand or even sharing clothes. Sexual contact is pretty much the way that nearly everyone becomes infected. Because of this reason, they are classified as a sexually transmitted disease.
Symptoms Of Scabies
Scabies causes a skin rash that is composed of red, small bumps and blisters. It is quite common for them to bury themselves between the fingers and on the wrists, elbows, waist, backs of the knees, sides of the feet, around the nipples, the buttocks and the genital area. These bumps often contain blood crusts. Interestingly, every single bump typically does not contain a bug so even if you have hundreds of bumps, you may only have 15 mites. This should be somewhat comforting news.
Textbook descriptions for symptoms of scabies always refer to tunnels or burrows. These are actually thread-like, tiny projections that appear as very thin red, gray or brown lines around and in the affected areas. Sometimes these lines are virtually impossible to see with the naked eye in some people while others simply dismiss them as scratch marks. Although as a rule with any skin infection, disease or irritation, you are not supposed to itch at it, with scabies, scratching destroys the burrows.
You should be aware that it is not uncommon for symptoms of scabies to appear for two months after being infested. Even though you may not have symptoms yet, you are still contagious and can spread them which is why outbreaks tend to occur in large groups.
The itching is relentless and worsens at night. For the first couple of weeks it is mild yet irritating and then it becomes so intense that sleep becomes virtually impossible. Even if you do fall asleep, the mites are sure to wake you right back up.
Fortunately, this is one sexually transmitted disease that is treatable.
- Apply a mite-killer creme from the neck down before you go to sleep. Wash off well in the shower in the morning. This should be repeated every night for a full week and ideally, you will wash your sheets every night.
- An oral medication such as Ivermectin has been proven effective against scabies however, it is not been approved by the FDA for this purpose.
- Petroleum jelly is helpful when treating scabies. It contains sulfur and it is safe for infants and pregnant or nursing women.
- Antihistamines such as Benadryl do wonderful things to help relieve the itching. Although they don't actually treat the problem, they do help make it more bearable.
- Wash your linens and undergarments in extremely hot water. Spray down your furniture, rugs, etc., with an appropriate cleaner.
Symptoms of scabies will take a bit of time to subside after you begin treatment so be patient and remain persistent.