Scabies is an infestation of the skin caused by a microscopic organism called human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). It causes intense itching, especially at night, and a pimple-like itchy rash. The common sites for itching and rash are wrist, elbow, armpit, webbing between the fingers, nipple, penis, waist, belt-line, and buttocks.
Scabies is contagious and can spread easily by direct skin-to-skin contact or by sharing articles such as clothing, towels, or bedding used by an infected person. Sexual contact is another reason for the transmission of scabies from one person to another.
If a person never had scabies before, symptoms may take as long as 4-6 weeks to begin. The infected person can spread scabies during this time, even if he/she does not have symptoms.
Treating all symptomatic and asymptomatic household members, patient’s sexual partner, and other exposed person who had prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the patient is the best control measures to prevent possible reexposure and reinfection of scabies. They should be treated at the same time as the patient, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.
Washing all bedding and clothing worn by the patient using a hot cycle wash and a hot drying cycle is also recommended. If hot water is not available, put all bedding and clothing into sealed plastic bags and store them away from other members for five to seven days. The mite cannot survive beyond four days without contact with human skin.
Products used to treat scabies are called scabicides because they kill scabies mites. The most commonly used scabicides are 5% Permethrin cream or lotion. It should be applied to all areas of the body from the neck down to the feet and toes and left on for the recommended time before it is washed off. And clean clothing should be worn after the treatment.