Scabies is an itchy rash on the skin triggered by small burrowing mites. The rash appear as reddened threads on the skin. This skin condition rapidly spreads and requires treatment.
What are the causes?
Scabies is triggered by a small-sized insect specifically Sarcoptes scabiei. The female mites usually lay eggs in small tunnels that form as they burrow beneath the surface of the skin.
Scabies spreads via skin-to-skin contact. Breakouts of the skin condition are prevalent in kindergartens, schools and nursing homes. Remember that the risk for the condition is not linked to a dirty environment or poor hygiene.
Indications of scabies
Scabies is characterized as reddened lumps and thread-like tracks on the skin. These tracks manifest between the fingers and toes, interior of the wrists, back part of the elbows, armpits, around the belly button and groin as well as on the buttocks. Among infants, the rash often manifests on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
The skin condition is intensely itchy especially at night time or after a hot shower or bath. Scratching the area can result to a secondary infection. It can take up to a month after the infection for the rash to manifest since it takes some time for the eggs to mature.
When to consult a doctor
A doctor should be consulted if the child has the following:
- Itchiness lasts for more than a week or stops and returns
- Bleeding and scabs or sores filled with pus appear in the same area as the itchiness
The doctor might take a sample of skin scrapings to confirm a diagnosis but this is not usually needed.
Scabies is capable of spreading rapidly, thus the child has to stay home until treatment is completed. The doctor will prescribe a cream or lotion, usually those that contain permethrin to be applied on the skin from the neck down.
It is not possible to prevent an initial infection but you can stop it from spreading to other family members.
The spread of scabies can be prevented by washing towels, linen, clothes and soft toys. All family members should be treated at the same time even if only one child is affected. It is recommended that the child stays home until treatment is completed.