Scabies has been around for a long, long time. In fact, there are ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics that seem to depict people who have the mite. But where do scabies come from? And how do you catch it?
First of all, scabies comes from other people. It is spread from person to person. It tends to spread rapidly when people live in close, crowded environments, like nursing homes or day care centers. Infants and children are more likely to catch it than adults. The elderly are more likely to catch it. And people who care for them are more likely to be exposed and catch it.
Scabies is spread by skin to skin contact, which makes children and infants more susceptible. They are held a lot more by adults, and they are in close contact with each other. It also can spread through infected linens, towels, and clothing. So if someone doing the laundry in a nursing home gets the mite in her clothing and goes to change the next bed, she can spread it to someone in that room.
Is there anything that can be done to stop the spread of the mite? Avoiding personal contact if you know you have it can help. Make sure that clothing and sheets are carried in a basket, not in the arms. Also, the person carrying the clothing should wear disposable gloves, and throw them away once they are in the wash.
Some people also suggest that sulfur powder can help stop the mite. In fact, placing sulfur in the home was frequently done in medieval times as a method of preventing or getting rid of scabies. It may help work as a repellent, and it doesn’t hurt to try it if you are at high risk of catching it.
So where do scabies come from? From other humans. You can’t get it from pets or other animals. You can get from surfaces, as the mite lives for up to three days without a human host. Taking steps to stop the mite from spreading, as well as seeking treatment if you are infected, is the first step towards eradicating this pest.
We’ve talked about pictures of scabies eggs, and the scabies mite. But one other thing the doctor will look for under the microscope is scabies droppings. These are usually found with the mite and the eggs.
Scabies feces looks like little black dots under the microscope. You won’t be able to see them under your skin when you look at it. Even a magnifying glass won’t help, as it is not strong enough.
So without further ado, here are some pictures of scabies feces. This image is from the Journal of Family Practice.
This pictures actually has all three elements. The big blobby thing in the center left is the mite. The little black dots are the scabies feces. And the bigger round blobs are the eggs. Pretty gross, right?
Scabies is one of the worst infestations out there. It makes you itchy and miserable. It takes a lot of work to get rid of. And that’s even worse if your children have scabies!
Most people think that scabies is an STD, but it’s not. It can spread anywhere people are in close contact with each other. One of the places it tends to spread quickly at is a day care center. This means that your child could catch it, bring it home, and infect the whole family. This is not something that you want to deal with!
The scabies mite will spread from child to child through physical contact, like hugging and holding hands. It can also spread through getting into the carpet, beds, blankets, and anywhere else your child spends time. Then, when someone else spends a bit of time with that item, for example by carrying sheets down to the washer, they may get infected as well.
After getting infested with the mite, it can take about 2-4 weeks for the typical scabies rash to appear. Most parents take their children in when other methods of getting rid of the rash are not working. The doctor will take a skin scraping (a very gentle, painless procedure) and look at it under the microscope. If mites, their excrement, or their eggs are found, then scabies is diagnosed.
Treatment consists of one of two prescription creams. These must be applied all over the body, from the scalp to the soles of the feet. This can be hard to do with a child, but it’s the only way to ensure all the mite is eliminated. After a few hours, the cream can be washed off. Everyone in the household should be treated at the same time to keep from reinfecting each other.
The scabies mite can live for up to three days away from a human host, so you should also clean the house at the same time family members are undergoing treatment. Wash launderables with hot water (turn up your water heater above 120) and dry on high heat or in direct sunlight. Use steam to kill the mite on couches and beds. Some people recommend that beds be wrapped in plastic, but this may not be necessary if everyone is being treated at the same time. Sulfur powder can also help repel the mite.