Scabies is an itchy, highly contagious skin disease caused by an infestation of the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabies). The tiny mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin where they live and lay eggs. Intense itching and a pimpled skin rash are the most common symptoms of scabies. This skin disease is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies. It can spread rapidly under crowded circumstances. Elementary schools are particularly susceptible to an outbreak of scabies, as children tend to share close spaces.
Scabies must be medically treated in order to stop the spread of the skin disease and to treat the infected person. Scabicides are the products used to treat scabies because they kill the scabies mites, with some also killing the eggs. Scabicide creams or lotions must be applied to all areas of the body from the neck down to the toes of the feet. For young children and infants, the scabicides must also be put on the head and neck area. Clean clothes must be put on after a treatment so that there will be no further spread of the skin disease.
If a family member or a classmate has been diagnosed with scabies, it is recommended that all persons who have been in contact with the infected person also seek scabies treatment. All persons should be treated at the same time in order to prevent re-infestation. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with scabies, you will want to be treated by a trusted dermatologist as soon as possible.
Posted on behalf of Dr. John Kayal, Northwest Georgia Dermatology