What are Scabies?

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding scabies. Most people recognize scabies as something bumpy and itchy that can appear on your skin, but do not know anything more. What causes it? How do scabies spread? How can you protect yourself?

Considering how much trouble scabies can cause, it’s a good idea to be educated about what they are and what they can do.

How people get scabies

Scabies is the name of a highly itchy, highly contagious skin disease caused by an infestation by the itch mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei. Direct skin contact is the most common mode of transit, but it must be prolonged skin contact. A quick handshake or a small hug doesn’t give the mite enough time to spread. They are sometimes spread via bedding or towels. There is some fear that scabies can spread via public swimming pools, but those sort of cases are extremely rare. It is considered by many to be a sexually transmitted disease, especially among young people, because it is extremely easy to spread during that intimate time. Once the mite finds human flesh, it burrows into the upper layer of skin, lays eggs, and basically sets up camp. A scabie mite cannot survive more than 2-3 days without human skin. Animals cannot spread scabies. They are afflicted by certain other mites that thrive on animal skin, but the scabies that affect us humans do not thrive on animals.

Knowing when you have scabies

The major sign of a scabies infestation is a small rash composed of tiny red bumps and blisters that affects specific areas of the body. It can also be identified by tiny red burrows in the skin and relentless itching. If a person has never had scabies before, symptoms can take 4-6 weeks to appear. If a person has had scabies before, symptoms may appear in as early as 1-4 days. The problem is, even before symptoms appear, the person is still highly contagious and able to spread the infection. An oral or topical prescription is the only way to get rid of scabies. Over the counter treatments have proven to be ineffective.
The earlier you are diagnosed, the early you can cure it. Keep an eye on your skin and if you think you may have infected anybody else, let them know right away.