Scabies is a contagious skin infestation caused by the microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabiei (the “human itch mite”). This parasite burrows into the skin, laying eggs and triggering an allergic reaction that leads to itching and a rash. Scabies can affect anyone, but schoolchildren can be particularly vulnerable due to their close skin-to-skin contact and shared environments.

Symptoms of scabies include severe, sometimes extreme itching, particularly at night, and the appearance of small red bumps, blisters, or pimple-like sores on the skin. These lesions are often found in the folds of the skin, between fingers, on the wrists, elbows, and in the genital area of the infected person. Scratching the affected area can lead to secondary infections, making prompt treatment crucial. In severe cases, itching and rash can be widespread across the body. Symptoms might take several weeks to appear in people who have never contracted scabies before (due to delayed immune reaction).

A common condition, scabies can be effectively treated with prescription medications like permethrin or ivermectin creams or lotions. These medications kill the mites and their eggs, providing relief from scabies infestation and its symptoms. Household members and close contacts should also be treated, even if they don't show symptoms, to prevent reinfestation. Thoroughly washing clothes, bedding, and personal items in hot water is important to eliminate any remaining mites. 

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Intense itching, especially at night

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Skin rash characterized by small red bumps, blisters, or pimple-like sores

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Thin, thread-like tracks or lines on the skin surface

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Sores and lesions caused by scratching

It's important to note that scabies symptoms can mimic other skin conditions, so a proper diagnosis by a healthcare professional is essential. If you suspect scabies or experience persistent itching and rash, it's recommended to request an online doctor visit for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Scabies is transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. It can also spread through sharing personal items like clothing, bedding, or towels. Crowded living conditions, such as nursing homes or prisons, can increase the risk of scabies transmission.

If you suspect scabies, it is important to visit a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis. The doctor will examine your skin and may perform a skin scraping or use a magnifying glass to look for mites, eggs, or fecal matter. In some cases, a small skin biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Prescription medications to treat scabies infestations include topical creams or lotions containing scabicide, such as permethrin. These antiparasitic medications kill the mites and their eggs. Anti-scabies medication must be applied to your entire body, from the neck down, and treatment is typically repeated within a few weeks to ensure complete clearance.

Treatment includes but not limited to:

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Topical anti-mite cream (permethrin)

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Oral anti-mite medication (ivermectin)

Prior to and during treatment, it is essential to avoid close physical contact with others until the scabies infestation is resolved. Wash your hands regularly, especially after scratching or touching the affected areas. Notify close contacts, such as family members or intimate partners, so they can seek treatment if necessary.

Risk for scabies infection can be reduced by avoiding direct skin-to-skin contact with individuals who have scabies until they have completed treatment, refraining from sharing personal items like clothing, bedding, or towels, keeping your living environment clean and regularly washing linens and clothing in hot water.

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Scabies is generally not classified as a typical sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can be transmitted through sexual contact. More frequently, scabies spreads through non-sexual close contact with family members, roommates, and others.

After a person becomes infested with scabies mites for the first time, it typically takes about 2 to 6 weeks for the symptoms to develop. This delay occurs because it takes time for the mites to cause an allergic reaction that leads to itching and other symptoms of this parasitic infection. If someone has had scabies before, their body's immune response can lead to symptoms appearing much sooner, within a few days.

Crusted scabies (a.k.a. Norwegian scabies) is a severe, highly contagious form of scabies infestation that leads to thick, crusted, and scaly lesions. It often occurs in people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, or individuals who are elderly or have other underlying health conditions.

Scabies is unlikely to resolve without treatment. Without treatment, the mites can continue to reproduce and spread, causing the symptoms to worsen over time. It's important to seek medical treatment to effectively eliminate the mites and alleviate symptoms. You can come to CallonDoc to speak with one of our virtual doctors for scabies. 

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