|What is the most common symptom of
The most typical symptom of scabies is intense itching,
particularly at night. Scabies and its associated itching
occur most often between the folds of the skin, such as
at the wrists and elbows, between the fingers, and in the
general area of the navel and beltline. Infants and
children sometimes get scabies on the head and scalp, or
on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
How do you get scabies?
Scabies is mainly transmitted from one person to
another through close contact with an infested person, or
by sharing his or her personal articles, such as clothing
or bed linen. If you think you may have been exposed, or
if you experience intense itching, consult your physician.
Can you get scabies from pets?
The human scabies mite infests and reproduces only on
humans. Scabies mites from other animals may cause
limited local irritation but will not become an
How is scabies diagnosed?
Dark ink applied to skin areas of suspected
infestation help locate scabies' burrow sites. To confirm
the presence of scabies, however, your physician places a
drop of sterile mineral oil on the affected area. A
scraping from this area is then examined under a
Why is it important to see a
Proper identification of scabies requires medical
experience. Scabies is often accompanied by bacterial
infections and is easily confused with other skin
diseases. An accurate diagnosis is important because
treatment for scabies requires the direct application of
a prescription pesticide (scabicide) to the skin.
Who is at risk?
Anyone of any age can get scabies, especially people
living in crowded conditions.
Can there be problems with
Young children, nursing mothers, pregnant women,
elderly individuals, and people with pre-existing medical
conditions may be more vulnerable to scabicide treatments. Most problems associated with using scabicides occur
when people do not follow product instructions carefully.
Side effects are often associated with improper use and
unnecessary overtreatment. Some treatments, however, are
more risky than others.
Are there treatments I should
The National Pediculosis Association, Inc. (NPA)
strongly discourages the use of scabicides that contain
the chemical lindane. Lindane has been associated with a
variety of serious medical problems, including seizures
and cancer. Lindane products are available under various
names, so it is important to check with your pharmacist
about your prescription.
Is there a safer alternative to
All scabicides are pesticides and must be used with caution.
Scabies is a highly communicable
Skin disease caused by tiny human itch mites . The
presence of scabies mites is often indicated by tunnel-like
lines of skin eruptions or bumps where female mites have
burrowed under the skin to live and lay their eggs.
Does the itching of scabies
disappear after treatment?
Itching may continue for as long as two to three weeks
after treatment. But this is normal, and is not a reason
to reapply the scabicide product.
How do I treat the furniture and
my home environment?
Vacuuming is the safest and best way to prevent the
spread of scabies from furniture and unwashables.
Laundering bed linens, bath towels, and clothing in hot
water is very important and should be a part of the
treatment procedure. Avoid using potentially harmful
Important Information for the
Accurate Diagnosis of Scabies:
Reports to the NPA continue to strongly suggest that
prescribing a scabicide without critical evaluation can
be counterproductive, if not harmful. It
is unwise to treat for scabies (or any other disease)
without a firm diagnosis because the person is not only
exposed to unnecessary pesticides but is also delayed in
getting an accurate diagnosis and proper therapy when
scabies are not the culprits.
Scabies can imitate many other skin conditions, such
as insect bites, hives, eczema, folliculitis, contact or
atopic dermatitis, impetigo, rosacea, psoriasis, lymphoma,
and drug reactions.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the
most common test involves applying a drop of sterile
mineral oil to the suspected lesion. The site is then
scraped with a scalpel and the scrapings are transferred
to a slide. Under the microscope, the doctor should be
able to find scabies mites, their eggs, or feces. Another
option is an ink test, in which the doctor applies a blue
or black felt-tipped pen to the suspected areas. Then the
skin surface is cleaned. Mite burrows can be revealed if
the ink sinks into them.
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