Effective Relief for Scabies Itch and Infestation

Scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the parasitic scabies mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). These mites burrow into the skin and cause an extreme reactionary rash that is almost unbearably itchy. Scabies is a global plague that affects people of all ages. Some of the most common areas where scabies infestations are known to proliferate include:

  • High Population Density Locales
  • Prisons
  • Nursing Homes
  • Hospitals
  • Refugee Camps
  • Disaster Shelters

Poor access to health care and the inability to properly identify and treat the infestation leads to epidemic conditions, particularly in areas with high poverty rates. Individuals with low immune function are particularly vulnerable. Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center provides prompt identification and effective relief options for patients affected by scabies in our region.

How is Scabies Transmitted?

Scabies is easily transmitted by very brief skin-to-skin contact with infected persons, as well as contact with infested bedding and furnishings. The mites may also be transmitted via sexual contact. In most cases, several mites will infest their human host. Mating occurs, after which the male mite dies. The pregnant female mite then burrows deep into the outside layers of the skin, where she lays one to three eggs per day for the remainder of her life (approximately 30-60 days). Each egg deposited will become an adult capable of reproduction within 10-14 days.

Symptoms of Scabies: Itch, Burrows, Papules, and Dermatitis

Scabies infestations exhibit several tell-tale symptoms. A physical examination will readily reveal the presence of any scabies mite infestation. The main and most unmistakable symptom of a scabies mite infestation is the presence of an extreme and unrelenting itch. Please note that the itch may not begin to be felt for approximately four to six weeks following initial infestation. Consequently, a thorough physical examination is necessary.

  • Severe Itch (More Extreme at Night)
  • Trunk and Limbs Infested (Not the Scalp)
  • Burrows Present (Grey Tracks in Skin)
  • Dermatitis
  • Papules Present

The activity of scratching tends to lead to secondary infections. Impetigo infection commonly follows a scabies infection, as staphylococcal and streptococcal bacteria gain access into the skin. Cellulitis, sepsis, glomerulonephritis, and rheumatic fever may also develop.

Crusted Scabies Symptoms

Crusted scabies is a variant of scabies in which many millions of mites have invaded the surface of the skin. This very contagious form of scabies appears as a generalized scaly rash and is frequently misdiagnosed as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. Scale is visible in the webs of the fingers, wrists, breasts, elbows, and scrotum. Unlike generalized scabies, crusted scabies may affect the scalp, and there may be little to no itch present.

Comprehensive Treatment of Scabies Infestations

It is important to note that effective and lasting treatment of scabies infestations requires a comprehensive approach. Chemical insecticides (scabicides), such as 5% permethrin cream, are applied to the entire body, where they remain for approximately ten hours. Oral medications (including ivermectin) may be available for certain populations. These are not as effective as topical treatment. Malathion, benzyl benzoate, and precipitated sulphur may also be used. Treatments must be repeated every 8-10 days. All clothing and linens must be treated and laundered. Non-washable items must be sealed for at least one week. All rooms of the home must be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed. In addition, all contacts must be notified of the infestation immediately. Contact Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center to schedule an appointment. Call: (814) 944-7109.