Scabies is quite
a common itchy skin condition caused by a tiny mite called Sarcoptes scabiei
that burrows in the surface of the skin, especially around the hands, feet
and male genitalia. It does not usually affect the neck and head.
Itching is a response
to an allergic reaction to the tiny mites and a rash of red, raised spots may
is scabies contracted?
The mite may be
passed to someone else by close physical contact, such as holding hands.
with scabies include young adults who are in close contact with someone else
itching, the elderly in a home or hospital, parents or grandparents recently
visited by scratching children and several members of a school class who are
Scabies is not
due to uncleanliness.
are the symptoms of scabies?
An itchy rash with
tiny lumps and blisters will develop on parts of the skin, including between
the fingers, around the wrists, around the armpit folds, on the buttocks, on
the penis, on the insteps of the feet, and the backs of the heels. It rarely
affects the face and head. Small itchy lumps on the penis, buttocks and around
the armpits may indicate scabies.
The itch is worse
at night and may affect more than one family member.
is scabies diagnosed?
Scabies is diagnosed
by the history which typically is that of an intensely itchy rash, which is
worse at night and is gradually spreading to involve a greater area. It can
be present for up to 12 weeks before an itch or rash develops. During this time,
scabies can be passed on to others.
Diagnosis is often
made clearer because more than one family member has an itchy rash.
Burrows can sometimes
be seen near the wrists and the diagnosis can be confirmed by microscopic examination
of its contents.
is scabies treated?
There are three
main types of treatment currently in use for scabies. All are applied to the
whole body except the head and neck and the whole family should be treated at
the same time.
- Permethrin is
considered safe, easy to apply and tends not to irritate the skin. It should
be left on the skin for at least eight hours and may be used on the head and
necks of children under two years.
- Benzyl benzoate
emulsion is washed off after twenty-four hours and repeated two or three times.
Dilute it in two or three times as much water for use in infants or young
- Malathion is
washed off after twenty-four hours.
is the outlook?
kill the mites but their bodies are still in the skin. The allergic itch will
persist until our natural defence systems break down and get rid of what is
left of the mites.
This process can
take about two weeks, so expect the itch to continue for that time and dont
to top of page