The term scabies refers to a skin condition that is typically marked by a rash and persistent itchiness. The most commonly affected areas that show scabies symptoms are the buttocks, thighs, elbows, breast, and the abdomen. Sometimes the rash appears between fingers. Also, many times excessive scratching to control intense itching causes sores (wounds), thereby aggravating this condition.
Symptoms and Causes
As aforementioned, development of pimple-like rash on the affected area is one of the most common symptoms of this parasitic infection. The symptoms are not immediately noticed and depending upon the individual health, the symptoms may appear within 3 weeks after scabies infestation. However, many people don't know what causes this sudden outbreak of reddish rash? It is discussed below:
A micro-organism known as Sarcoptes scabiei is actually responsible for causing this skin infection. When these 8 legged microscopic parasites come in contact with the skin, they dig a hole into the topmost layer (epidermis) and lay their eggs. These mites prefer to reside in these small tunnels. Although these mites find a perfect place to live on the skin, this certainly cannot be tolerated by the epidermis. The intolerance of the skin to these mites, manifests in the form of skin rash and is accompanied by severe itching. These parasites, basically thrive in the moist areas and hence the rash is often seen in the armpits. It is not possible to view the parasite or the 'tunnels' that it makes, with the naked eye. However, use of a magnifying glass can help to view the scabies burrow.
Is It Contagious?
Scabies is a contagious disease and it is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. A woman keeping a physical relationship with her partner affected with scabies has 99.99% chances of suffering from the infection. Although, the disease spreads through physical contact, this does not mean that a simple hand shake will cause this infection. Prolonged skin-to-skin contact is the most important factor that gives ample time for scabies transmission. Wearing clothes or sharing bedding of person diagnosed with scabies is another way by which this infection can transmit.
Although the skin infection is not a case of medical urgency, treatment cannot be overlooked as the extreme itchiness that accompanies it can be quite distracting and interfere with the day-to-day activities. Application of scabicide lotion is the most sought after treatment for this infection. Topical creams such as permetrin (Elimite) applied on the affected part can relieve itchiness to a great extent. However, these are prescription medicines and not available over the counter. These lotions are quite effective to destroy the parasite and its eggs. As mentioned above, too much scratching during scabies infestation, can damage the skin and lead to the development of sores. Thus, the skin may contract a secondary bacterial infection. In such circumstances, the doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic to get rid of the infection.
Precautionary measures like washing the bedding and clothes of the affected person can help to prevent recurrence of scabies. No doubt, the infection is curable but without treatment, it may last for months and even years. So appropriate and timely treatment is the key to prevent this skin infection from worsening.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.