Scabies is caused by mites and is characterized by a skin infection which is extremely itchy and irritating. Antiparasitic lotion used as per the directions is normally all that is needed to cure this condition.
The mites that cause scabies are very tiny and lay their eggs underneath your skin by burrowing and creating a tunnel to use for this purpose. This is the area where all stages of the life cycle of the mite take place. The female dies after laying her eggs but the eggs hatch into larvae. These eat their way out of the burrow to the surface of the skin where they mature into adults. This process may take several days and it is during this period that they can easily transfer to other people if they come near enough.
They are usually spread by personal contact, such as sharing a bed. When the mites have matured, they mate, the male dies, and the female continues breeding to propagate the infection. The whole cycle, from eggs to the maturation of fresh mites, takes about two weeks.
The first signs normally appear on the hands and wrists where the females make their burrows. However, they can sometimes make their burrows on the elbows, feet, ankles, genital areas, and nipples. It is rare for them to begin their burrows on the chest and back or the head. The burrows are normally evidenced by thin reddish-brown lines.
Sometimes it is only after the larvae have hatches that the person even notices a problem. At this point, the body may develop an allergic reaction to the burrowing and a red, blotchy rash appears. This is accompanied by severe itching which leads to intense scratching. This, in turn, can cause a bacterial infection from the bleeding. Treatment is needed to protect the skin from further damage.
A person suffering from scabies is usually quick to seek medical assistance as the irritation is extremely intense, to the point where the person’s quality of life is seriously impaired. Because the itching is even more severe at night, sleep patterns suffer and the person is continuously tired. The skin, by this stage, is a mess of burrows, allergic reactions, and scratch marks. The diagnosis is confirmed by examining the mite under a magnifying glass after extracting it from the skin.
Treatment is normally fast and effective, usually consisting of treatment with a benzyl benzoate or gamma benzene hexachloride lotion. This type of treatment kills the mites on the surface of the skin and the symptoms will then subside.
Another treatment is sulfur in petroleum and is commonly used on people with sensitive skin or on babies. The treatment needs to be left on the skin for some time as these mites are extremely hardy. The allergic reaction can be harder to cure and can linger on after the scabies have been cured.
Anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should be treated. In the dormant period between infection and the development of symptoms, fresh mites may be released before the newly infected contact has been treated, so everyone in the family or household should be treated.
The main complications from scabies are secondary bacterial skin infections from scratching. Sometimes, if a person’s general resistance to infection is low, there may be heavy infestations of mites which can lead to outbreaks.