Scabies is an infection of the skin caused by a microscopic species of parasitic mite.  The human itch mite, or Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis, is spread by direct, extended contact with someone who has scabies.  The parasite burrows into the skin, sets up camp, and then lays its eggs in the upper layer of the skin.

After exposure, it can take as short as 1-2 days or up to 8 weeks to show signs or symptoms. However, they can only live for up to three days off of their host.  The most tell-tale sign of scabies infestation is a rash in reaction to the mite eggs and excretions.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Intense itching
  • Rash with sores similar to acne
  • Blistering appearance
  • Scale-like appearance
  • Burrows that look like small crooked lines on the skin

Adult and children rashes may differ.  For example, kids typically experience the rash on the head, neck, feet soles, and the palms of their hands.  As we age, the rash is more common in our nooks and crannies, including between fingers, wrists, elbows, waist, thighs, genitals, and buttocks.

Scabies Treatment

Firstly, prescription medication will easily eradicate scabies parasites.  We typically prescribe a permethrin 5% cream, applied to the entire surface of the body.  For infants and toddlers, we recommend that you place the cream on the head and neck.  However, for older children, you can apply the cream from the neck down.  About 8 to 14 hours after you use the cream, bathe your child to remove it.

If someone in your household has scabies, assume you were also exposed.  Use the prescription cream on all members of the house. Because it can take up too 8 weeks before signs or symptoms present, treatment is worthwhile.

The prescription cream should clear up the infection, though itching typically remains for a week or longer following treatment.  Moreover, keep your eye out for reinfection and help make them comfortable with anti-itch methods.

Home Remedies for Itching

  • Apply a cold pack to the area.
  • Take a bath with finely ground oatmeal, baking soda, or apple cider vinegar. Run the water at a lukewarm (not hot) temperature and limit it to 10-15 minutes.  Any bath that is too long or too hot will cause your skin to dry out and worsen itching.
  • Moisturize! Apply any topical medications first and then cover it with a layer of moisturizer.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Humidify your home, or the child’s room, to 50-75%
  • Apply aloe vera at the site of the itching.
  • Use topical numbing or anti-itch creams, like hydrocortisone.
  • Take an antihistamine, like Benadryl or Claritin, or extreme itching.
  • Wear loose, natural fabric clothing. Avoid irritating fabrics like wool.
  • Use fragrance-free products to avoid irritants.
  • Avoid stress.

Scabies Prevention

Finally, avoid scabies mites by avoiding contact with an infected person.  Clean all cloth material in hot water or by dry cleaning.  Seal all other items in a bag for at least three days to kill any living mites.

For questions or comments, please respond to this post or contact us.