What Is Scabies?
Sarcoptes scabiei is the name of the mite that causes scabies. Scabies is a skin infestation that is caused by these mites. If it is undiagnosed and left untreated, then these mites can live on your bodies for months on end and wreak havoc. They crawl all over your skin and lay eggs. They leave behind irritated skin that you will feel like itching. You will have itchy rashes all over your body because of this.
Also known as the human itch mites, they burrow into the top layer of the skin to dwell there and feed themselves. This is how it leads to scabies because your skin will react to these mites and cause rashes to appear.
Is Scabies Contagious?
Scabies is actually highly contagious. It mostly spreads through direct contact or by touching something that scabies-infected person has come in contact with, like touching their clothes or sitting on the same bed as them. Because it is so contagious, the treatment of scabies is not just prescribed to the person who is infested with these mites but also those who come in contact with this person on a regular basis. Although scabies is very frustrating and contagious, the treatment is very efficient. It will kill all the mites on your body and their eggs. Make sure to get everyone in your family treated so as to avoid getting reinfected with scabies.
What Does Scabies Look Like?
The mites that cause scabies cannot be seen by the naked eye. If you have a look at these mites under a microscope, you will see that they have round bodies and eight legs. Since you can’t see them, the diagnoses are done by the signs and symptoms of the scabies
How Do You Catch Scabies?
You can catch scabies by coming in direct physical contact with a person infected with scabies or coming in contact with their items like clothing, bed, or even furniture. Mites can live up to 4 days without being on any human body so it can be transferred very easily by any clothing.
Anyone can get scabies irrespective of their hygiene levels, income, age, race, or gender. Luckily, you can get rid of it easily too so it is merely an inconvenience for a few days.
Where Does Scabies Come From?
The mites that cause scabies gets transmitted through direct skin to skin contact. These mites start to cause the symptoms at the site where they first entered the body. So if they were transferred during a sexual intercourse, the symptoms of scabies may start to appear in the pubic region. It is important to note that although it is transmitted sexually, it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD) because it can be transmitted through any skin to skin contact without any sexual relations as well.
These mites can be transmitted to pets but they quickly start dying on pets. So they will immediately transfer to another human from the pets.
It has been found that people get infected with rabies in the following –
- Nursing Homes
- Locker Rooms
- Rehab Homes
The Signs And Symptoms Of Scabies
After the mites are transferred to your body by someone infested with scabies, it takes 2 to 6 weeks for the symptoms to manifest itself on your body. The signs and symptoms of scabies are as follows-
- Severe itching, especially at night
- Tiny insect-type bites that may appear as pimples or blisters anywhere on the body. The most likely places are underarm, elbow, wrists, the space between the fingers, knees, nipples, genitals, waist, and buttocks
- Once you start scratching at it, you will also develop rashes, redness, and sores there
- Tiny burrows in the skin indicating the mites’ movement can be found
It is important to note that these symptoms may not even manifest up to 2 months after being infected with mites. But these mites can spread to other parts of the body or even to other people. The most common symptom of scabies it the itching that it very subtle in the beginning, but it tends to intensify gradually. It is this relentless need to itch that distinguishes scabies from the other similar conditions. Scabies does not cause pain and although the itching is the worst at night, it doesn’t prevent sleep and nor does it wake the person up in the middle of the night.
There is a possibility to get another kind of scabies too, which are called Norwegian Scabies or Crusted Scabies. This is even more contagious and severe. If you have crusted scabies, you will experience very thick crusts of skin consisting of thousands of mites and their eggs. Crusted scabies occurs to people who have a weakened immune system, neurological disease, the elderlies, the disabled, or the mentally impaired. The mites here multiply at a much faster rate but it spreads on your body the same way as normal scabies. It is much harder to treat Norwegian scabies than normal scabies. The rash of crusted scabies look scaly and they may not even itch.
Is It Scabies?
There are lots of other conditions that cause rashes so it may not even be scabies. Allergic drug reactions and shingles may also lead to rashes. So the diagnosis of scabies is done by scraping the blister with a needle and removing a mite from there. The doctor may even scrape off a little bit of skin and inspect it under the microscope to see the mite.
5 Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Scabies
Medical treatment is required to get rid of the mites that cause scabies. But some people, especially those who react badly to treatment, may prefer the home remedies. Below are some of the most effective home remedies to treat scabies
There are different kinds of oil that you can apply to get rid of scabies. Tea Tree oil and Clove oil are the most effective oil remedies in this case. Tea tree oil is found to relieve itchiness in the skin but it hasn’t been found to be very effective in removing all the eggs from under the skin. Compared to other oils, clove oil has been found to be very effective in treating scabies in a research study. In contrast, tea tree oil is not very effective in removing the eggs that are buried deep inside the skin. There is no specific quantity of oil that you have to use. Just make sure that you cover all the area with rashes and around it with the oil.
Side effects of applying these oils are that you might be allergic to it. Just to be sure, apply it on an arm where there are no rashes to test it. If you don’t see any allergic reaction in a day then you can apply it on the area that it infected. There is a study that shows that applying too much tea tree oil on prepubescent boys can develop into prepubertal gynecomastia. So make sure to ask your health care provider before applying it on a young boy.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has been found to be as effective as a medical drug in treating scabies. It is not only full of nutrients that will calm your irritation and itchiness, but it will quickly remove the rashes and the scars along with it. All of this is done naturally with no side effects.
It is best to use natural aloe vera. Cut a leaf from the plant, remove the thorns and slit it from the front. Gather all the gel inside the leaf into a bowl and apply a thick layer of coat all over the infected area. If you get aloe vera from the shop, all you have to do is apply it on the affected area.
Turmeric is not a cure for scabies but it helps relieve the symptoms of scabies. So to permanently cure scabies, you might have to use other treatment methods along with this one. Take some turmeric powder and cover the whole infected area and a little around it with turmeric. You can even add a few drops of water and turn it into a paste so that it stays stuck on the area that you have applied.
4. Cayenne Pepper
This has been proven to be an effective treatment against the mites although not in treating scabies completely. There is an element in it called the capsaicin that effectively reduces the symptoms of itchiness, irritation, and redness. There are also creams available with capsaicin in it that you should buy if your doctor allows you to. Make a paste of Cayenne pepper by applying a few drops of water to it, and apply it on the areas where you see burrows under the skin. Make sure that you do not touch your eyes as the pepper will make your eyes burn and water. It’s best if you wash your hands immediately after applying the paste.
Bleach is a harsh chemical that you should be very careful in using. You should dilute it first before applying it anywhere on your body. You can either take a bleach bath or take some bleach on the cloth and lightly dab it on the rashes. Bleach is known to kill the mites and the eggs under the skin but be careful not to apply too much or expose it on your skin for a long time. If you are going to be using a cloth to dab bleach water on the scalp, fill the bowl with as much water as much the bleach if not more.
Wash your clothes in hot water and vacuum your house to clean up the remaining mites that are lying around to prevent being reinfested with it or to prevent others from getting it. This isn’t a remedy but it should be done so as to prevent any further harm. Contact your doctor for the medical treatment of scabies which might include oral or topical scabicidal drugs. Over-the-counter medication is not recommended for this case as it has not found to be very effective in curing scabies.
How To Prevent Scabies?
Considering that the only way to catch scabies is if you touch the scabies-infected person or their clothing, the best way to prevent getting scabies would to avoid physical contact. Make sure that the clothes and the bedding used by this person are washed in hot water. There is no vaccination that will prevent scabies but fortunately, if diagnosed in the early stages, it can be treated quickly and you will be cured within weeks.