Scabies is caused by the insect Sarcoptes scarbiei of the variety hominis. The name is derived from the Latin scabere meaning “to scratch.” The mite infests humans, causing an intense itching. These are not the same mites that cause sarcoptic mange in animals, but they are related. It is found all over the world in people of all ages, social levels and incomes.
How Do You Get Scabies?
Scabies has little to do with unclean environments but can easily spread in crowded conditions that result in close contact. Scabies is spread through extended close body contact with someone infected with the parasite. Places such as extended-care facilities, nursing homes, childcare services and prisons are often the sites of outbreaks. A version of scabies called crusted scabies is a severe form that can happen to people with supressed immune systems such as those with AIDS, the elderly or disabled. Those with crusted scabies are particularly contagious.
Most cases of scabies are spread by close contact with someone who already has the condition. It can also spread by shared bedding, towels, and sometimes other objects, such as furniture. It will often affect several members of the same family, as it often spread before symptoms appear.
The Signs and Symptoms of Scabies
The scabies mite is very small and not visible with the naked eye. They burrow under the skin of the host, which causes an allergic reaction and intense itching. The burrow tracks of the mites are often linear and may resemble mosquito bites. Diagnosis of the disease is often made because of the neat line of four or more closely located ‘bites.’ The itching is intense and usually worse in warm circumstances, and often seems worse at night.
The burrows caused by the mite creates a rash that is most often found on the feet, hands, elbows, wrists, buttocks, back and external genitals. It usually does not appear on the head except in infants and those with a compromised immune system. The trails created by the mite’s burrowing are often linear or s-shaped and are usually accompanied by pimple-like insect “bites.” They are often found in the crevices of the body, such as the webs of the toes and fingers, under women’s breasts and in the genital area.
Once a person is infected, symptoms may not appear for two to six weeks for people who have never had scabies. For those who have had it before, symptoms may appear just days after the infestation occurs. In infants, scabies are usually indicated by pustules and blisters on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands.
When scabies are diagnosed, it is important that all those in close contact with the person be treated at the same time to avoid re-infestation. Shared items such as blankets, throws, pillows, towels, etc. need to be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer or dry cleaned.
Permethrin cream is deemed the most effective treatment for scabies. The cream is applied from head to toe prior to bed. It then remains on the skin for eight to 14 hours, and then removed in the shower. Although one application is usually all that is needed, it can be applied again in seven to 14 days.
Ivermectin is a pill that is effective, sometimes with a single dose, and is the best choice for crusted scabies. However, no testing has taken place on infants and use for children under six is not recommended.
Antihistamines are also effective in treating the itching. Other treatments available are less costly than premethrin and ivermectin but may not be as effective or may require longer treatment periods. There are also toxicity concerns for some.
Scabies is a problem that is treated directly to the body of those infected and does not require the assistance of an exterminator. However, if you are in need of pest control of any kind, contact Universal Pest Control and we will provide a free estimate for eliminating your pest problem.
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UNIVERSAL PEST CONTROL offering Florida pest control services is locally owned and has been operated by the Stebleton family since 1994.