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Scabies: That Intense Itch

By HERWriter
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Those small red bumps on your skin might be mosquito or spider bites. However, because they are so intensely itchy you go to a doctor to take a look. The bites turn out to be scabies. The doctor explains that scabies occur after a tiny female mite burrows into the folds of your skin and lays her eggs. What makes scabies difficult to diagnose is that the severe itch doesn’t occur until two to four months later, after the eggs hatch making it hard to remember how you were exposed.

How scabies is spread:
Scabies mites are spread from close personal skin to skin contact. Sexual contact is the most common way it is passed among those who are sexually active but it can also be passed by the close contact of holding someone, such as a child, against to your skin. Scabies mites can only live for 24 to 36 hours on clothes or surfaces away from its host but still can be spread from shared items such as a work smock or towel. Pets cannot give humans scabies; the mites they have are of a different breed.

Scabies frequently occurs in the webs of fingers or toes but really can appear anywhere the skin folds such as: nipples, elbows, ankles, wrists and genitals. Infections from other bacteria on the skin can occur from breaks in the surface of the skin so care must be taken to avoid vigorous scratching.


1. Permethrin is a scabicidal cream applied to the infected areas and is left on for eight to 14 hours (overnight) before being washed off. It is important to avoid the eyes, nose and mouth to avoid irritation. The treatment is often repeated again in a week.

2. Ivermectin is an oral antiparasitic medication that also is retaken two weeks after the first dose. Ivermectin is not approved by the FDA as a scabicide but it has been used for those who do not tolerate permethrin or when it or other creams have failed. It also has risk of greater side effects and has not been found to be more effective than permethrin.

3. Crotamiton lotion 10 percent or cream is another type of topical treatment but is not approved for use in children. It has not been found to be as effective as other medications used.

4. Benadryl can be used to control itching and assist in sleeping at night until the rash has improved.

It is important to wash any linen and clothes that may have become contaminated with scabies mites as well as tell any one who you have had close contact with, especially sexual contact, that you have scabies.

One clue, if you are unsure if that rash and itch you are experiencing is scabies, is that the itch starts out mild for the first week or two then progressively becomes more intense, especially at night. Make sure you seek treatment as soon as you suspect that that you have scabies because it will take a week or more for the itching to diminish even after you have started medication.


Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele can be read at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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