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Prevention and Cure for Scabies

Madhavi Ghare
Scabies is a contagious skin infection which commonly affects canines, as well as humans. This story talks about scabies in humans, the methods of prevention, and cure of this infection.
The word 'Scabies' is derived from the Latin verb 'scabere' which means, 'to scratch'. It is a skin infection caused by mites belonging to the Sarcoptes genus. This infection is caused by mites called Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis in cats and dogs, and S. scabiei var. hominis in humans.
The mite is about ⅓ millimeters long, and has eight legs. It has a flat, oval shaped body which is wrinkled, and has transverse corrugations.

Scabies Infection

When a fertilized female itch mite lands on the body of an individual, she begins to excavate a burrow on the surface of the skin. This happens within a period of one hour. Due to this, the individual's skin starts to itch. Soon the female starts laying eggs.
Once they hatch, the mites reach maturity within 14 to 17 days. These adult itch mites then go on to repeat this cycle. This is how individual gets infected by scabies. A normal itch mite has a life span of 30 days.

Where Does the Rash Occur?

The most commonly affected body parts that are the webs between the fingers, wrists, elbows, the back, the armpits, the areolae of breasts (in females), the genitals (commonly in males), the area along the belt line, and the lower buttocks.

How Does It Spread?

Scabies is contagious. It spreads via close contact with an infected person, for example, hugging, cuddling, or sexual contact. Sharing clothes may also lead to the spread. Thus, if one person in the family has been infected, other members who are in close contact with him, become equally susceptible.


The most common symptom of scabies is itchy skin. The burrows made by the mite may result into bumps and blisters on the skin. The symptoms often appear within 30 - 40 days of the infestation. The itching may cause the infected person to scratch the area repeatedly, which may lead to red skin, soreness, and rashes on the skin.
Individuals who are affected by medical conditions that reduce immunity, may be affected by a secondary skin infection.


Diagnosis of the infection can be tough, since the scratching tends to obscure the burrows. The burrows are in a zigzag pattern and appear as fine, wavy, and scaly lines near the surface of the skin. A tiny mite can often be seen at the end of the burrow (under a microscope).


It is best to seek the advice of a medical practitioner for scabies. This is because there are a variety of mite killer lotions and creams available in the market. However, each cream may not be suitable for each individual, as one may have allergies to certain chemicals present in the creams.
Permethrin and Ivermectin are generally prescribed to the affected individuals. Antihistamines are also used to provide relief from itching.
Apart from these treatments, one should also ensure that the linens, bedclothes, towels, clothes, etc., which are in close contact with the skin are washed in hot water, and later exposed to the sun. This has to be followed strictly as the mites can often survive without a host for as long as 48 - 72 hours (7 days in case of Crusted Scabies).
The floors, carpets, and rugs in the house need to be vacuumed, and the surfaces of the bathrooms need to be disinfected regularly. Individuals who have come in close contact with the infected person, and who are therefore susceptible to the infection; also need to be treated simultaneously for the possible infection.
Neem leaves are said to provide relief from the itching naturally. Neem oil can be applied to the skin to reduce the itching. Putting neem bunches in the bed also helps in getting rid of the itch.


» One should ensure that they follow a good hygiene regimen.
» Regular bathing, use of clean towels and napkins, washing hands with soap or hand wash is a must.
» One should strictly avoid clothes worn by others.
» One must ensure that they avoid any physical contact with the infected individuals.
Maintaining a clean environment is the best way to prevent scabies. However, one must make sure that all the mites have been killed, and removed from every part of the house.
Disclaimer: This story is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.