Scabies/skin parasites is a highly contagious infection of the skin that is found in both humans and animals. Parasites that are the cause of scabies are tiny with eight legs. They are around 1/3 millimetre in length and are not directly visible to the naked eye. They burrow into the person’s skin to produce intense itching, which often seems to get worse in a warm environment and at night. This symptom of the disease is called pruritus, and is accompanied by a painful sensation leading to the person with scabies to scratch. Unfortunately this scratching can often results in a secondary infection.
The disease is usually transmitted via skin to skin contact although may also be transmitted by an object such as bedding. The more prolonged the contact, the higher the risk of infection.
After the initial infection, the symptoms may not appear for a further 4 to 6 weeks, however reinfection may show symptoms in as few as 24 hours. Due to the fact the symptoms are considered allergic the delay in their onset is often reflected by a considerable delay in relief once the parasites have been completely eradicated.
The majority of people manifest scabies by tracks in their skin, or rashes like insect bites. More often the signs of scabies can be seen in the creases of the body such as inbetween the fingers or toes, in the genital area and also under a woman’s breasts. Another form of scabies, often associated with immunosuppression is called crusted scabies and is a much more severe type of the skin infection as the skin takes on a crust like appearance.
Diagnosis of scabies/skin parasites can be made by identifying the adult mites with a microscope. This will identify not just the adult mites but also the eggs or larvae.
Scabies/skin parasites can be successfully treated with a whole range of medications. Due to the fact parasite at the cause of the scabies burrows into the outer skin layer, an external method of healing is most important, whereas an internal cleansing is seen to be secondary.
One cream for external use is called Permethrin and is considered to be the most effective. This is expensive though when compared with the other treatments. A different cream is Crotamiton, although less beneficial it is nontoxic and also soothing. A treatment that can be used both orally and applied to the infected site is Ivermectin. So as to prevent re-infection, people close to the person with scabies/skin parasites should also be treated. There are also herbal remedies and some practitioners recommend bathing in sea salt on a daily basis to treat the scabies/skin parasites. In all cases the patient should take medical advice.