What is scabies?
- Scabies is a contagious skin infestation caused by a microscopic parasite known as the Sarcoptes scabiei. The parasite penetrates the skin, and then burrows into it and lays eggs.
- Scabies don’t have serious health repercussions, and there are rarely any complications.
What are the symptoms?
- People infested with scabies will have intense itching that is usually worse at night or on hot skin.
- Symptoms also include a rash with tiny blisters or sores (small red pimples, white lines—called grooves—or skin lesions caused by scratching).
- Symptoms are likely to occur between the fingers and on the wrists, and on the outside surfaces of the elbows and armpits; however, they can be found anywhere on the body.
How does it spread?
- Scabies usually is spread by prolonged, repeated skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.
- Scabies can also be spread through infested clothes, bedding, or furniture. However, the risk is low.
How soon after infestation do symptoms of scabies begin?
- After the initial exposure to scabies, it can take from two to six weeks for symptoms to appear. The symptoms usually develop more quickly in people who’ve had scabies before.
- It is important to remember that an infested person can spread scabies during this time, even if they don’t have symptoms yet.
How is it treated?
- Scabies is usually treated with a cream or lotion that contains 5% permethrin (Nix® or Kwellada-P®). The medicine is applied on the skin and left on for 12 to 14 hours, and then washed off.
- These products are available over-the-counter and are often reimbursed with a doctor’s prescription.
- The product must be applied correctly in all folds of the skin.
Who should be treated?
- Anyone who is infested with scabies.
- Members of the same household.
- Persons who have had close contact with the infested person over a period of six weeks before the onset of symptoms.
What other precautions should you take at home?
- Wash all clothes, bedding, and towels that have been in contact with the infested person in the 4 days before the start of the treatment. Use hot water, and use the hot cycle in a dryer for 20 minutes.
- Non-washable items should be sealed in a plastic bag for 4 days.