Scabies is a skin disease caused by the presence of a mite known as the sarcoptes scabiei and has become increasingly common in recent years. It can be transmitted via the skin and close contact with others and any infected clothing or linen. Thus, sexually contact provides a perfect opportunity for the spread of the disease. Once infected, the skin becomes very itchy and the infection is also highly contagious. It happens when female mites tear through the skin and create burrows where they lay eggs and die within the skin of the human body.

What are the symptoms?

No symptoms are immediately experienced, as it takes three weeks for scabies to lay eggs, hatch and develop. Sufferers will then begin to experience an intensely itchy rash. This rash is usually found around the fingers, palms, toes, wrists, armpits, and skin around the navel. Women may also discover rashes around the nipples and under the breast itself. The itching is actually the result of an allergic reaction in the skin to the presence of the scabies mites and their excreted fluids.

What can Scabies lead to?

If untreated, irritated skin will continue to cause discomfort with intense itching sensations occurring day and that. Furthermore, the disorder can also develop into the permanent skin condition eczema. Scabies won’t disappear without treatment.

How do I diagnose it?

A full body examination will usually be required. Ink will be applied to the skin and then carefully removed with alcohol, so that any burrow marks are then shown up through small spots of ink on the skin. However, a doctor can only officially diagnose scabies unless a mite is discovered on the body and effectively identified under a microscope.

How can I treat it?

The primary treatments available to scabies sufferers are very similar to those used to treat pubic lice. Insecticidal lotions are recommended by doctors. They come as either a lotion or cream available on prescription or over the counter at a pharmacy. There are two main types of these lotions. The first is called Malathion 0.5 aqueous lotion which is suitable for all. The user must apply the lotion to all areas of the body except for the eyes. If washing hands or any other area of the body, the lotion must be reapplied and stay on for at least twelve hours before removal. This process should then repeat the process one week later. The second is called Permathrin 5% cream which is not suitable for anyone pregnant, breast feeding or under the age of eighteen. It is also applied to all of the body excluding the eyes. It should be left on for twenty four hours before removal and once again the process must be repeated one week later. The reason for this one week repeat period is to ensure that any additional lice that may have hatched are effectively removed.
Itching may persist for some time after the scabies have been removed. Eurax cream or lotion should be applied to any undamaged skin to help deal with this. Antihistamines with sedating properties can also help to relieve itching experienced during the night.

Where can I go?

Scabies should be diagnosed by a doctor or someone from a sexual health or genitor-urinary medicine clinic. However, once diagnosed, the treatments can be purchased from a pharmacy and applied independently. If problems persist, consult your doctor with information on your current method of treatment and he may advise further action.

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