The mere mention of the word “scabies” is often enough to trigger a crawling sensation over anyone's body. Even though this condition has much social stigma attached to it, compared with conditions like asthma and diabetes it is not a serious condition.
Bugs with Eight Legs
Scabies is an intensely itchy condition that can affect people of all ages. Adults are certainly not immune, so if your child contracts scabies, you do have to worry about your own well-being. Fortunately, scabies is not as contagious as many other infectious diseases. It usually requires prolonged skin-to-skin contact to be transmitted from one person to another.
Scabies is caused by a microscopic bug that literally sets up residence inside your skin. An adult bug cannot survive for more than one day once it's detached from your skin. Your skin provides it with shelter and sustenance. It eats, poops, and has sex right under your skin. These bugs must feed on your skin constantly. If the thought of that doesn't make your skin crawl, not many things will.
The itch caused by scabies is intense. Not many other skin conditions other than eczema cause an itch whose intensity is enough to keep a child (and the parent) up all night scratching. Both of these conditions can cause a chronic itch. If multiple family members are itching at the same time, the culprit for the itching is very likely going to be scabies.
From a patient's perspective, it is more important to relieve the itching immediately than to get rid of the bugs. In fact, the intense itching may last up to six weeks after all the scabies parasites are dead. The residual allergic reaction to the dead bugs and their feces is the reason for the protracted itching.
Treating scabies requires a tremendous amount of patience. The physician must inform the parents when initiating therapy what to expect. A realistic expectation at the onset of treatment can prevent the parents from getting frustrated with the experience. Since scabies is contagious, every household member should be treated with the medication, even the ones who are not scratching.
Even though the resolution of itching takes so long, the actual bugs are fairly easy to kill. Apply the prescription cream all over your child's body from the neck down when your child goes to bed. Make sure you cover every inch of skin with the medication. Any area of skin that is missed could harbor a renegade bug, which could start a fresh infestation all over again. Usually a single treatment with a prescription cream obliterates all the bugs and their eggs. If there are infants under the age of one year in the household, ask your pediatrician for exact instructions on how to treat them.
Even as the scabies bugs are on their deathbed, your child will continue to experience the same intense itching. Antihistamine taken by mouth can offer significant relief from the suffering. You can administer antihistamine around the clock to make your child comfortable, but keep in mind that most of these medications cause drowsiness.
The permethrin cream used to treat scabies is actually a neurotoxin. It disrupts the brain of these little bugs so that they cannot move or stay on the skin. This is also the reason that you should not apply this cream to your child repeatedly. One treatment is good, but four consecutive treatments may be harmful to your child. Follow the doctor's instructions exactly. Do not use the medication over and over again.
Beside antihistamine, steroid creams (the same ones that are used to treat eczema) are also beneficial. These creams reduce the skin irritation caused by the incessant scratching, but they do not work as fast as the oral antihistamines.
Point of No Return
After killing off all the parasites on the skin, your work is not quite finished. Scabies bugs may be hiding in clothing and bed sheets. It is critical to launder all the clothes worn on the day before the treatment as well as all the bed sheets and to cycle them for at least an hour in the dryer afterward. Anything that cannot be tossed into the washer can be placed inside a sealed trash bag for two weeks. It takes up to ten days for the scabies eggs to hatch, and scabies parasites cannot survive without feeding on human skin for more than a day. If either the eggs or scabies bugs are trapped in a bag for two weeks, they will all be dead.
Contrary to many beliefs, human scabies are not transmitted from pets or to pets. Therefore, leave your lovely animals alone when you treat everyone in the household for scabies. Do not blame them for the infestation or treat them with scabicide. They are just innocent bystanders.
It is generally unnecessary to spray pesticide or treat carpets, the upholstery of sofas, and other furniture. Since scabies parasites cannot survive long unless they are on the human skin, they do not willingly leave it.