What is scabies?
Scabies is a skin disorder caused by the scabies mite (a small parasite that is present in the skin of infected patients) leading to persistent itching. This itching is worse at night and commonly affects hands, wrists and fingers, elbows, armpits, nipples & buttocks. Scabies is quite infectious and can affect the entire family. Scabies usually occurs in unhygienic conditions and with overcrowding.
How is scabies transmitted?
Scabies spreads by close person-to-person contact and by sharing same bed or clothes. It is especially seen in people with poor hygiene.
What is the treatment for scabies?
Scabies mite is killed by various medications such as benzyl benzoate, Malathion, permethrin etc. For infants and young children, crotamiton or permethrin is more preferable. The medication is to be applied on the entire body from neck downwards at bed time. The lotion is to be removed by bathing next morning. The lotion is not to be applied on the face. Benzyl benzoate may be repeated for 3 days, malathion for one use, crotamiton for 5 days. Any family member who has itching or close body contact, whether affected or not should have the same treatment at the same time.
Do not apply the anti-scabies medication on your own as the drugs are toxic and can lead to severe dermatitis if used excessively.
Sometimes, itching may persist after treatment. This may be because of hypersensitive reactions to the dead mites. Antihistamine or steroids may be required to control the itching.
The other aspect to be considered is eradicating the mites completely. All undergarments should be washed in warm water & dried and ironed. Shirts and trousers should be washed in hot water and ironed inside out in the seams. Bed linen, pillow covers, pillows, mattresses should be dusted & sunned.
created on 6-12-2004
Last updated on 18-11-2006