Scabies isn’t a virus or a bacteria that you catch. It’s actually a mite infestation. When someone is diagnosed with scabies, then they have tiny mites that are living under their skin. These mites have to live on the human body because they can only live for 2 days outside of it and they are unable to reproduce. Sometimes animals can transmit scabies to people, but the most common form of transmission is person-to-person. Here are the important facts that you need to know.
1. It is spread through prolonged and direct skin contact.
Just holding someone’s hand isn’t generally going to spread scabies. It requires shared contact with items, such as bedding, towels, or even clothing with someone who has an active infestation. It can happen at a nursing home or assisted living facility if workers come into frequent contact with a infested person’s linens frequently. Sitting next to your co-worker isn’t usually going to be a problem.
2. The mites love a good joint.
Most of the time a scabies infection is going to occur somewhere on the body where the skin can fold over in some way. This is because the mites like to literally burrow into the skin. The most common sites for an infection will tend to be around the armpits, the folds of skin between the fingers, or around the wrist or elbow. Any place where there are skin folds, however, will be an open invitation to these mites.
3. It’s a rash that’s not really a rash.
Scabies typically causes a very red and very itchy patch of skin because of the damage the mites are doing while they are burrowing. Some medical professionals believe that the redness is coming from an allergic reaction to the presence of the mites. In cases where a rash occurs away from the infection site, it is possible that an allergic reaction is present. The actual infection site, however, is typically characterized by inflammation.
4. Now that’s a bad spot.
A visit to the doctor will generally give you some topical medications to apply to an infested area. The mites that cause scabies are just like any other bug, so when they sense danger, they’re going to try to leave. You’ll want to cover all areas where the mites may migrate to make sure that they can’t get away. For scabies near the hands, that means making sure to put medication under your fingernails so the mites can’t take refuge in there.
5. It can be a prolonged problem.
It may take up to 3 months for the itching to subside from a scabies infestation, even if all of the mites have been killed. Medication to relieve the itching is usually safe to use in these instances.
Scabies is something that requires direct medical treatment. If you have used these facts to determine that you may have scabies, then make an appointment to see your family doctor right away.