A Burrowing Microscopic Mite Can Lead To Scabies
Scabies is one of those terms that sounds like it must mean something disgusting. Actually, it is an itchy skin condition caused by a microscopic mite. Scabies has been around for more than 2,000 years and was the original inspiration for the phrase “the seven-year itch.” The female mite burrows into the skin, laying eggs as it tunnels. The body develops an allergic reaction to the mites and their waste products, causing extreme itching.
The classic symptom is severe itching, especially at night or after a warm bath. The mites are generally too small to be seen with the naked eye, but your doctor may take a skin scraping to view under the microscope.Fortunately, the treatment of scabies is relatively simple. The therapy of choice is the prescription cream permethrin, also known as Elimite. Note that while there are some over-the-counter products containing permethrin available for treating lice, they are not as strong as the prescription form and are not recommended for treating scabies.Apply the cream to the entire body, even areas without rash, making sure to get between the fingers and toes and under the nails. Leave the cream on for 8 to 12 hours, usually overnight, and then wash off completely. A second application one week later may be necessary. The mites can survive only for a few days off of the body, so wash towels, sheets and recently worn clothes in hot water.Even though the infestation is cured, the itching and rash may persist for several weeks after treatment. An oral antihistamine like Benadryl and a steroid cream such as hydrocortisone can provide some relief. Scabies is highly contagious and spreads from direct, prolonged, person-to-person contact. It takes about a month for symptoms to develop after exposure to the mite, so go ahead and treat the entire family before the rash appears.