Diagnosis: How Can I Be Sure I Have Scabies?
If you believe you are experiencing scabies symptoms, it is important to visit your health care provider and have them examine the affected areas in order to provide the proper treatment and avoid spreading it. Doctors can perform a visual exam, looking for the scabies rash on the body and for burrows. In order to diagnose scabies, doctors look to confirm the presence of mites, eggs or fecal matter. This is done so by taking a skin sample and examining it under a microscope, or by using a needle to extract mites from their burrows.
What Are the Treatment Options for Scabies?
In order to completely remove scabies, the use of medication like scabicide is needed. While certain over-the-counter creams and products might help alleviate certain symptoms, they don’t kill mites. Stronger medication is only available by prescription. For common, non-crusted scabies, patients are prescribed a topical medication that should be applied to the body.
Permethrin cream (Elimite) is the most commonly prescribed medication. Crotamiton lotion, crotamiton cream (Eurax, Crotan), sulfur ointment, or Lindane lotion may also be considered, depending on the patient. These medications are applied to the entire body, from the neck down, on clean, dry skin and left on for about 8 to 14 hours before being washed off. The process is usually repeated a week after the first treatment to remove the newly hatched mites.
Treatment of crusted scabies requires an oral anti-parasitic medicine, Stromectol (ivermectin), along with topical medication. Depending on the severity of the infestation, these pills are taken in three, five, or seven doses.
Along with scabicide, your doctor might prescribe an antihistamine or steroid cream to help calm the itching and inflammation of the skin. After treatment, even after the mites have been removed, there is still a chance that you may experience residual itching for a few weeks. If the itching lasts more than two to four weeks, or if you notice new burrows or the pimple-like scabies rash, you might still need additional treatment.
A review of studies published in February 2016 in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene examined the potential use of tea tree oil, which has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-itching effects, as a possible treatment for scabies. Study authors noted a growing resistance to current standards of treatments like ivermectin and Permethrin and called for additional research on the topic.
What Are the Possible Complication of Scabies?
A scabies infection can lead to complications when secondary infections develop. The nonstop scratching can result in open wounds that are susceptible to infection, often staph or sometimes strep, causing another skin infection called impetigo. While impetigo isn’t dangerous, if not properly treated with antibiotics, it can lead to serious complications. If bacteria enter the bloodstream, it can result in potentially life-threatening sepsis. Inflammation in the kidneys can also be caused by the same bacteria as impetigo.Related: Beg Bugs: How to Stay Pest-Free