Avoid others with scabies
Disinfect the living space
Prevent scabies from spreading
Prevent scabies from returning
What Is Scabies?
Scabies is a skin disease that spreads very easily. It is known to be caused by a small species of mite known as Sarcoptes scabies. Under the surface of the skin, these mites lay eggs which, once they are hatched, produce new mites that make new burrows. These mites can also be confused by the individual with pubic lice, the reason being that both of these conditions lead to itching in the genital region. Hence, identification of these mites at times would become a difficult task. It is known to spread through physical contact. Often, scabies is thought to be a sexually transmitted disease because it spreads through sexual contact from one person to another. But children also have a tendency to pass it to one another as well as to adults through contact, since it is a highly contagious disease. In nursing homes, nursing facilities, and child care centers, outbreaks of scabies are a common occurrence. For the initial infection, the incubation period is known to take four to six weeks’ time. Scabies is said to spread through contact very easily. The parasites can transfer from one to another medium. For the infection to be transmitted, short, direct contact is more than enough. Only by touching the skin of an infected person can expose another individual to the condition. A few other ways are:
- Through direct skin-to-skin contact (non-sexual as well as sexual)
- While carrying out sexual activity
- Through any kind of physical contact, such as sharing towels, underclothing, or bedding of a person who is infected with scabies
Outside of the human body, these mites are known to thrive for 72 hours, hence, it becomes possible for them to spread through clothes, bedding, and towels.
When an individual has been infected with the scabies mite, the very first symptoms may at times not appear for a period of two months, even after being infected. But the individual who has been infected with scabies can still transmit them to another person, even if there are no symptoms. Many a times, scabies is known to be passed through direct or prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an individual who has already been infested. However, an individual who is suffering from crusted or Norwegian scabies may spread this infestation just through a short, skin-to-skin contact as well as exposure through the clothing, bedding, or even through the surface of the furniture that has been used by the infected individual.
Scabies can be prevented by avoiding any kind of direct skin-to-skin contact with an individual who has already been infected or with any of the items of the infected person, such as clothing, bedding, towels, or even furniture used by them. The treatment of scabies is mostly recommended for all family members of the house, especially for those individuals who had a longer skin-to-skin contact with the infected person. All household members as well as any other potentially exposed individual should be treated for scabies at the same time as the infected individual so as to prevent any possibility of re-exposure or re-infestation. The clothing and bedding that has touched the skin anytime during the three days before treatment should be washed thoroughly in a washing machine and then dried using hot water, along with hot dryer cycles. It can be dry cleaned as well. Those items which cannot be dry cleaned or laundered should be disinfested by storing them in a closed plastic bag for a couple of days or weeks. The scabies mites are not able to survive for more than two to three days away from the human skin. Adults as well as children can return back to their school or work once they complete the course of treatment. Those individuals who suffer from crusted scabies, as well as their close relatives or contacts who become exposed to this form of scabies, including their household members, should also be treated aggressively or rapidly so as to avoid any kind of scabies outbreak. If there are outbreaks, they are difficult to control and hence would need a rapid, sustained, and aggressive response. The rooms that have been used by patients suffering from crusted scabies should be cleaned as well as vacuumed properly after use.
- Be sure to seek professional help: There are multiple forms of medications, which can include the use of ointments, creams, and lotions, (mostly topical treatments) meant to provide instant relief for the patient suffering from the scabies infection. Apart from these topical treatments, there are also certain oral medications that can be prescribed to the patient in lieu of the scabies treatment. The doctor may also suggest that the individual apply the topical creams and lotions prescribed before bedtime, as this is the time when the mites become very active, thereby aggravating the infection. The individual should apply the medication in liberal amounts from the neck down all over the body so that the mites do not affect the presently unaffected parts of your body. Most of the medications that are prescribed for scabies are generally safe for the skin and can easily be washed off the next morning. Hence, it is important for the individual to complete the course of treatment and follow the doctor’s instructions strictly. The individual may need to continue the treatment for a period of six to seven days or as long as the infection lasts.
- Be sure to keep the home clean with disinfectants: Whenever it is possible, one should make use of disinfectant sprays to maintain cleanliness around the home. The more items the infected person touches, the more things that will have to be disinfected so as to avoid spreading the infestation. Just spray the disinfectant on surfaces of any items whenever possible. Mostly, it can be used on the surfaces that have been touched by the infected person.
- Try to limit contact with others: The less the infected person touches, the less likely they would spread the infection to others. The individual should be sure to use the best when it comes to maintaining cleanliness at home, as well as free from scabies. The same would go for their surroundings, too. One should try to limit the exposure to other individuals, furniture, or any other types of clothes or material. This should be carried out until the individual is completely treated and they do not have any signs of mites on the skin. If the individual is finding it difficult to wash their own clothes, they need not worry; just try to maintain a separate bag with all the used clothing, since the scabies mites cannot survive outside of the body for more than three days.
- Vacuum the home thoroughly: It is very important to vacuum the carpets as well as the furniture to get rid of the mites and their eggs, if any. It is advisable to vacuum every other item used at home on a daily basis for several weeks once anyone from the home has been identified as having the scabies infection. Various items, which can include curtains, mattresses, furniture, beneath the furniture, couches, and chairs, should all be vacuumed properly. This is considered one of the easier ways to get rid of scabies, which can lead to mites and their eggs, just in case the infected person has come into contact with any of these items.
- Avoid sharing dishes or utensils: Since scabies is highly contagious, the members of the family or anyone with the infected person should be very cautious when it comes to sharing any dishes or utensils with others. Until the infection is treated completely, try to avoid sharing of any kind. If they have been shared, be sure to clean them thoroughly.