Though there are over 300 million cases of scabies a year, many people have not heard of the scabies rash or think it has to do with poor personal hygiene. Scabies is quite contagious and can be caught in any close living situation or environment. There are reports in schools, nursing homes, college dorms and of Ivy League schools and other settings of scabies being discovered and transmitted.
The first symptom is often just repeated scratching due to an itch. The rash may not be visible at this time and it can take four to six weeks for a rash to even appear for many people. However, the itching usually begins earlier. Scabies is a mite that is microscopic and buries itself in the skin where it lays it's eggs. The eggs hatch, look for mates on the person's skin and this can continue until treatment with the pesticide cream is taken.
It can be extremely itchy and require antihistamines to help with sleep. A prescription is needed to get the 5 percent cream with the active ingredient permethrin. This is put on the body from the neck down and care must be taken to also put the cream inside the nail beds. People often scratch themselves and the mites can hide there. In fact, one nursing home that had trouble eradicating the scabies rash outbreaks found that it was this area that was ignored when people applied the cream. Once that was attended to more closely, they had success in stopping this epidemic.
Once someone is diagnosed with scabies, everyone in the family or who had close contact with the person ideally should also apply the cream as well. This is to stop the cycle of the mites being passed back and forth due to personal contact. After the cream is applied, it is kept on overnight and then washed off in the morning. The sheets and clothing worn during the week also needs to be washed in very hot water plus dried in a hot dryer.
One area that is hard to detect is whether the itching after the cream that continues is due to re-infestation or an eczema type of rash reaction. This can be very frustrating to people as one does not know if the cream should be re-applied or if they are just having a reaction to the cream. A physician or dermatologist is helpful to look this over. It is easy to get very upset and discouraged about scabies but it is highly treatable with attention and followig the correct procedures.