Scabies is an infection caused by the microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabiei. It is highly contagious and is spread by direct, skin-to-skin contact. Symptoms of scabies include intense itching and a pimple-like rash, which may be accompanied by redness and scaling of the skin. Treatment typically involves applying a special cream or lotion to the affected area and washing all bedding and clothing in hot water. If not treated, scabies can cause severe skin irritation and secondary bacterial infections.
The primary symptom of scabies is intense itching, especially at night. Other symptoms may include a pimple-like rash, with clusters of small red bumps and blisters, burrows or tracks on the skin which may look like thin, gray or white lines, and skin sores which may become infected.
The most common cause of scabies is infestation with the mite species Sarcoptes scabiei. These mites are found around the world and can infest humans, as well as other animals such as dogs, cats, chickens and livestock. The mites burrow into the skin and lay eggs, triggering an itchy and uncomfortable rash. Other less common causes of scabies include infestations from mite species Notoedres cati, Chirodiscoides celsi, and Knemidocoptes mutans.
Risk factors for scabies include:
- Close contact with an infected person: Scabies is highly contagious, and people can become infected through coming into contact with the mites that live on the skin of an infected individual.
- Crowded living conditions: Living in close quarters increases the likelihood of transmission of mites from one person to another.
- Low socioeconomic status: People who live in poverty and lack proper sanitation and hygiene are at greater risk of contracting scabies.
- Decreased immunity: People with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or taking immune-suppressing medications, are more vulnerable to infection.
- Age: Infants and the elderly are more susceptible to scabies.
Scabies can often be diagnosed based on a physical examination of the skin, although it can be difficult to distinguish from other skin conditions. Your doctor may also scrape a small area of your skin and examine the contents under a microscope. This test can confirm the presence of mites, eggs, and mite feces, which can help diagnose a scabies infestation.
Scabies is an infection caused by a type of mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. It is usually characterized by intense itching in the affected area and is typically found in areas of the body where the skin folds or creases, such as in between the fingers, around the wrists, behind the elbows, between the buttocks, and around the waist. Scabies can be subdivided into the following subtypes:
- Classical Scabies: This most common type of scabies is caused by the classic mite “Sarcoptes scabiei”, usually found in adults. Symptoms include rash, itchiness, and burrows which are small raised lines in the skin.
- Norwegian Scabies: Characterized by a severe form of scabies, with more mites than classical scabies, leading to an intense and inflamed irritation of the skin.
- Crusted Scabies: Also known as “hyperkeratotic scabies”, this is caused by an infestation of a large number of mites, leading to scaling and crusting on the skin. This type of scabies is most common in immunocompromised individuals, including children, the elderly, and people living with HIV/AIDS.
- Scabies Incognito: This type of scabies is often unrecognized as it does not cause the typical itching, rash and burrows. Instead, it causes lesions that can appear as other skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, or contact dermatitis.
The most common treatments for scabies include topical medications, oral medications, and home remedies.
Topical medications include:
- Permethrin cream (Elimite/Lyclear)
- Crotamiton (Eurax)
Oral medications include:
Home remedies include:
- Tea tree oil
- Neem oil
- Petroleum jelly
- Cotton clothing
- Steam cleaning or vacuuming furniture and mattresses
- Washing clothing, bedding, and towels in hot water
- Avoiding close physical contact with others to reduce the risk of spreading scabies
- Avoid direct contact with people who have scabies or with items that may have been exposed to someone with scabies.
- Clean your home and laundry regularly, wash bedding and clothing in hot water, and vacuum carpets and furniture.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing and avoid tight-fitting clothes, especially in warm weather.
- Use a medicated soap and shampoo specifically designed to kill scabies mites and eggs.
- Cover rash areas with bandages to avoid spreading mites to other areas of the body or to other people.
- Treat all affected family members and close contacts at the same time.
- Change your bedding and vacuum your home regularly.
- Avoid sharing personal items, such as clothes, towels, and bedding, with other people.
- Take regular hot showers and wash your clothes and bedding in hot water.
- 0. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about the possibility of using an over-the-counter or prescription medicated cream to treat scabies.
There may be gender-specific differences in the presentation of scabies. Females tend to have more intense itching than males due to being more sensitive to the chemicals released by the mites. Females may also be more likely to suffer from secondary bacterial infections as a result of constant scratching.
In terms of the management of scabies, both genders require the same treatment methods, such as topical creams, ointments, and oral anti-parasitics. However, females may need more intensive topical treatments than males due to their increased sensitivity to the chemicals released by the mites.
Nutrition plays an important role in the management of scabies, as maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is vital to supporting the body’s immune system, helping it resist and fight infection. Consuming a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and avoiding high-sugar processed foods can help boost the body’s natural defenses and assist in the healing process. Additionally, while there is no evidence that scabies can be directly prevented by specific foods, certain dietary choices can help reduce the likelihood of getting scabies in the first place. For example, eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties, such as salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds, can help reduce itching and irritation associated with scabies. Keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized, in addition to adequate rest and exercise, can help improve the skin’s overall condition and keep it better prepared to fight potential skin infections.
Physical activity does not have a direct effect on scabies. However, physical activity can indirectly reduce the risk of developing scabies. This is because physical activity helps promote a healthy immune system, which can combat the mite that causes scabies. Physical activity also helps reduce stress levels, which also helps reduce the risk of contracting scabies. Additionally, physical activity can improve hygiene and skin care, which can make it harder for the mite to survive on the skin.