Learning what scabies look like is an easy way to self-diagnose this irritating skin condition. Itching, that worsens with time and red skin bumps are the noticeable signs of this infection. This article provides more information about the signs and symptoms of scabies.
Scabies is an extremely contagious skin infection characterized with intense itching symptoms. This skin condition is caused by the ectoparasite Sarcoptes scabiei, commonly known as the ‘itch mite’. The infestation in humans is caused by the female mite. Unlike other common insects around us, this tiny parasite has eight legs. Here, we shall take a look at what this skin infection looks like during the peak infection stage and while healing.
Scabies: On the Skin
The disease name ‘scabies’ is derived from the Latin word scabere meaning ‘scratch’. In addition to itching and scratching discomfort symptoms, there are various other signs of this infection that can be identified easily. The itch mite punctures and burrows through the skin. Thus, a minute superficial burrow is present at the site of infection. As a result, small, red-colored bumps, and skin rashes appear on specific parts of the body.
The symptoms of scabies may be manifested within 2-8 weeks after infection. Nevertheless, the person who has been infested by the itch mite is capable of transmitting live mites to other individuals. This ectoparasite gets transmitted through direct skin contact with an infected person. Hence, several members of a family get infected with itch mite at the same time though prominent signs are not observed. The first sign of infection is mild itching (for about 2 weeks), which exacerbates gradually.
In an infected person, red bumps are commonly present in the webs of fingers, wrists, backs of elbows, under the breasts, knees, toes, waist area, genital area, and buttocks. Only 10-15 live mites are sufficient to cause hundreds of rashes and bumps in a healthy individual. As the mite travels, it leaves unusual shaped tracks or sometimes S-shaped tunnels. The female itch mite is about 0.3-0.4 mm in length and can be viewed with the help of a magnifying glass or under the microscope. Under magnification, the mite looks like a dark spot, usually present at the terminal end of the skin burrow.
In infants and babies, scabies cause rashes and blisters on the face, neck, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. In adults, the noticeable symptoms are nodules (similar to typical insect bites) and skin burrows. Severe itching occurs due to the body’s responses to itch mites. In all cases, the intensity of itching increases at nighttime. Thus, most infected people do not get sound sleep due to constant scratching tendency. The discomfort symptoms are more profound in people having a suppressed immune system.
Scabies is a worldwide problem with thousands of people getting infected every year. Self-diagnosis will help identify the skin problem in the initial stages of the infection. Due to early diagnosis, an individual can follow effective measures to prevent the spread of the itch mites to other body parts and also to other people in the family.
Scabies: When Healing
As of date, there is no specific drug concerning scabies treatment over the counter. Nevertheless, there are prescription ointments that can be used effectively. A popularly recommended cream is Elimite (Permethrin), formulated by Allergan. This scabicide cream is recommended for adults and babies older than 2 months. The skin bumps disappear after about 2 weeks of using this cream on the infected skin. Another sign of healing is less itchiness.
This infection is commonly reported in public healthcare centers, nursing homes, and even in hospitals. The high contagious nature of the itch mites is a major cause of concern for everyone, especially for the homeless population. Knowing what scabies looks like will surely help minimize the spread of this infectious disease to some extent.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.