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Scabies: Why do I have itchy skin mites, and how can I treat them?

Scabies: Why do I have itchy skin mites, and how can I treat them?

Scabies: Why do I have itchy skin mites, and how can I treat them?

Submitted and Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mavra Farrukh

Overview

Scabies is caused by a mite and can be hard to eliminate. Specific forms of scabies are more challenging to treat, such as the crusted form. The creepy crawly sensation is very much real, and the intense itching can be very uncomfortable. Let us find out how to get rid of these scabies mites. 

What is scabies?

Scabies is considered a skin infestation. The cause of this contagious condition is a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. These itchy mites reproduce on the surface of your skin by laying eggs and burrowing into the skin. These microscopic mites can survive on your skin for months if left untreated. Resultantly, an itchy, red rash forms on your skin. A highly contagious condition that can quickly be passed from one person to As it is passed on through direct skin contact, it is a highly infectious and prevalent condition.

Although it can be transmitted through close contact, sharing bedding or clothes, scabies is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease.

Scabies can be distressing, but the skin mites on humans can usually be eliminated. However, since it is highly contagious, treatment is recommended for people in frequent contact with someone who has contracted scabies. Treatment usually consists of medications that kill the mites and their eggs.

How do you get scabies?

Anyone can contract scabies. The disease isn’t caused by poor hygiene. Individuals that more likely to get scabies include:

  • Those residing in crowded areas.
  • Infants and children are more prone.
  •  Elderly, especially those who are residents of nursing homes.
  • Healthcare workers who are looking out for people who have scabies but are unaware.
Do you have a rash and intense itching? You might have scabies, chat to our doctor to find out more!

Are there different types of scabies?

There are various types of scabies other than the classic one; these include:

  • Crusted (Norwegian Scabies): This type usually occurs in immunocompromised people. Crusted areas covering a large skin area are the hallmark of this particular type. In the case of crusted scabies, you might have millions of mites, unlike classic scabies, with fewer mites. 
  • Nodular: This type is prevalent amongst children. The brown-red nodules can persist even after the mites have been eliminated.
  • Bullous: This type of scabies commonly affects adults and can be confused with bullous pemphigoid, as both lead to the formation of scabies blisters.
  • Scalp: This type affects the scalp and presents as scales on the scalp that are very similar to those experienced due to psoriasis.

How soon after infestation do symptoms of scabies begin?

It can take around two to five weeks for symptoms to appear after the initial exposure. Symptoms tend to occur more quickly in individuals who have had scabies before. However, symptoms may appear as early as 1 to 4 days post-exposure. 

Scabies symptoms

The symptoms, such as scabies rash and scabies itching, usually worsen at night. Intense itching all over the body of the infected area causes sores to develop that may become infected. Additional treatment with antibiotics is required if the case of a skin infection.

Scabies symptoms comprise of:

  • small bites
  • scabies hives
  • bumps that look like pimples
  • bumps under the skin

Scabies on hands can present as hard pimples or bumps. The burrow marks made by the mite are sometimes visible to the naked eye. They can appear as raised discolored lines.

Where do scabies mites live on your body?

The mites reside in the folds and cracks of your skin. Common mite sites include:

  • Space in between the fingers and toes.
  • Under the fingernails.
  • Under ornaments such as rings and bracelets.
  • Bends at your wrists and knees.
  • Folds in your thighs
  • Genital area.
  • The area around the waist.
  • The area surrounding the nipples.

How is scabies spread?

Scabies result from an infestation of microscopic, eight-legged mites. These bugs are so tiny that you can’t visualize them on your skin, but you can certainly see the symptoms that they cause. Burrowing into the top layer of your skin; the female mites lay eggs to survive. These itch mites on humans lead to a red and itchy rash which is your body’s response to the mite’s waste. 

The mites on the skin are easily passed between people, which is contagious. Direct skin-to-skin contact is the mode of spread. The mites can be passed on through infested:

  • clothes
  • bedding
  • furniture

Nursing homes or care facilities often report outbreaks of such infestations as people live in close contact and there is a higher chance of spread.

How do you get scabies without human contact?

As verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), animals don’t spread the type of scabies that affects humans. A species of scabies mite that can cause disease in your pets is called “mange.”

Even if you come into contact with an animal that has mange, that may lead to slight itching and irritation of your skin. However, these mites won’t be able to survive or reproduce on your skin and will die on their own.

If your pet has mange, it is essential to treat it to prevent the cycle of continuous transmission and exposure. 

How do you know itchy skin mites are scabies?

The first symptom of scabies includes itching and a pimple-like rash. The areas commonly affected include your wrists, finger webs, armpits, elbows, waist, knees, groin or ankles. One distinctive feature of condition is that the itching/rash worsens at night, leading to sleepless nights. 

Is scabies contagious?

Scabies is highly contagious. It spreads through:

  • prolonged skin-to-skin contact
  • intimate contact, such as sexual intercourse
  • sharing clothing or towels with someone who has scabies

Scabies is transmitted through direct physical contact. The infestation can readily be passed on to family members, friends, and sexual partners. The infestation may also spread quickly in:

  • schools
  • care facilities/ homes
  • sports locker rooms
  • prisons

If you are pondering questions, including why I have scabies, but my wife doesn’t? If you require further information on the transmission mode, consult our doctor online for further information. 

Risk factors and complications

Some of the complications of the condition include:

  1. Intense itching that leads to scratching can break your skin and can cause a secondary infection, such as impetigo. The staphylococci bacteria usually cause this superficial skin infection.
  2. Severe scratching can damage the skin and, in extreme cases, can result in bleeding.

Some of the risk factors include:

Crusted scabies, also called Norwegian scabies, is a severe form of the condition. It usually affects certain high-risk groups, such as:

  1. Individuals with chronic medical conditions, such as HIV/Aids or cancers
  2. Elderly people in nursing homes
  3. People who are extremely ill
Chat With a Doctor For Treatment Options or a Prescription to treat Scabies

Common natural treatments for scabies

Scabies in humans can be very bothersome. If you have itching without a rash or are desperately wondering how to stop itching at night, the following remedies may help you find some relief:

Tea tree oil

Some studies indicate that tea tree oil may treat scabies by easing itchy skin at night with bumps on the skin. However, it won’t kill the mites that are burrowed into your skin. 

Aloe vera

Aloe vera has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Moreover, it has a soothing effect and eases skin irritation.

Capsaicin cream

Capsaicin has pain-relieving properties. It is a popular remedy for managing burning pain and works by desensitizing your skin to bites and bugs. However, it will not kill the mites.

Essential oils

Essential oils are thought to have some insecticide properties that could help manage symptoms of scabies. The most efficient oils shortlisted after research include:

  • clove oil
  • palmarosa oil
  • geranium oil
  • tea tree oil
  • lavender oil

How to get rid of mites(scabies)

Permethrin is commonly prescribed to treat scabies. The cream is applied to your whole body below your head, including the hands, palms, and soles of the feet, to treat human skin mite bites.

The cream may need to be applied to the scalp in children. Ensure skin is clean and dry before the application. It is recommended to leave the cream on for eight to 14 hours or overnight and then wash it off. If spots still appear after scabies treatment, that may indicate that you require further treatment. 

Ivermectin is an alternate option for treating scabies. This antiparasitic pill is prescribed as a single dose, followed by a second dose one to two weeks after that.

Contraindications for taking ivermectin include being pregnant, lactating or having a child weighing less than 35 pounds. Additionally, you may need to take antihistamines to relieve itching. A secondary bacterial infection that may arise due to complications is treated with antibiotics. 

If you want to get rid of scabies in 24 hours or as early as possible, it is best to consult a doctor and start treatment immediately. 

Prevention

You can avoid spreading scabies by:

  • Wash bed linens, towels and clothing in hot water and machine dry.
  • Make sure family members and others in close contact with the infected person are checked or treated for scabies.
  • Limiting close contact with others if you have scabies.

How long can scabies live on a mattress?

Scabies mites can live for up to 2 to 3 days on surfaces or objects such as a mattress. 

Some ways to clean your mattress or get rid of the mites include: 

  • Steam cleaning
  • Vacuuming
  • Permethrin spray
  • Using a Plastic cover on the top and throwing it away
  • Replacing your mattress

When to consult a Doctor About Scabies

Scabies is an infectious disease. You and other people close to you should be tested and treated. If you have any skin rash that doesn’t go away, you should consult a doctor, as red itchy rashes can be treated. ​​If you have a rash and intense itching preventing you from sleeping at night, consult our doctor at Your Doctors Online for treatment. 

Chat With a Doctor and Get treated for Scabies

FAQs About Scabies Answered by Your Doctors Online Team

How do you know if you have scabies?

The first symptom of scabies includes itching and a pimple-like rash. The areas commonly affected include wrists, finger webs, armpits, elbows, waist, knees, groin or ankles. One distinctive feature of scabies is that the itching/rash worsens at night, leading to sleepless nights.

Is scabies always an STD?

Scabies is passed on through direct skin contact. It is a highly contagious and prevalent condition. Although it can be transmitted through close contact, sharing bedding or clothes, scabies is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease.

Does poor hygiene cause scabies?

Poor hygiene does not result in scabies. However, it is a highly contagious condition that can easily be passed on from one person to as it is passed on through direct skin contact.

Can you get scabies from cats?

Animals such as cats don’t spread the type of scabies that affects humans. A species of scabies mite that can cause disease in your pets is called “mange.”

Can you get scabies from a dog?

Animals, including dogs, don’t spread scabies that affects humans. Although, the same mites can lead to temporary skin irritation. 

Can scabies live in shoes?

Scabies mites can survive in objects such as shoes for 2-3 days. 

How to get rid of a rash overnight?


Using antihistamines and essential oils may help combat itching, but the application or permethrin helps eliminate the mites. 

Can you have scabies for years?

Untreated infestations can last for years and may result in complications. 

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