What Is Scabies? (Cause, Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention)
What is scabies?
Scabies is a parasitic mite, that infests the top layers of human skin. It is known by it’s scientific name, sarcoptes scabiei, and is also called the seven year itch. These parasitic mites affect 300 million people around the world per year. Despite advances in medical treatments, this number is only getting worse.
Scabies mites are only about half of a millimeter long, and are too small to be seen with your naked eye. They have eight legs that they use for burrowing, and a suctioning mouth that they use for holding themselves onto your skin.
Within minutes of contacting your skin, the mite starts to dig it’s burrow, where it lays its eggs, and lives for 1-2 months. The eggs take 3-4 days to hatch, and about 10 days for the mites to reach adulthood. This process repeats, increasing the population of the mites, until they are killed with proper treatment.
What is crusted (norwegian) Scabies?
Crusted scabies is basically an extreme infestation of the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. It is characterized by thick, crusty skin, that looks and feels like sand paper. This is caused by hundreds of mites ,rather than the typical 15-20 that is normally found on a single person.
This is very rare, and only occurs in people with weak or compromised immune systems. It is most common in the elderly and disabled. Crusted scabies is not deadly itself, but it can lead to potentially fatal bacterial infections.
What causes scabies?
Scabies is caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The symptoms occur when your immune system reacts to the toxic waste left by the mites that have been digging, pooping, reproducing, and dying underneath your skin. Once your skin has been infested with the mite, it can take up to a month before you see any symptoms.
Scabies is highly contagious, and can be transmitted by any one who has at least one living mite on there skin. In order to catch scabies, you must have direct skin to skin contact with someone who already has scabies, or with something they have touched.
Commonly contaminated items that can spread scabies include, clothing, bedding, towels, and fabric toys like a teddy bear. Common activities that spread scabies include sexual intercourse, contact sports like wrestling, and massages. The most likely places to get scabies include hospitals, hotels, gyms, nail salons, schools, day cares, nursing homes, and airplanes.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
The symptoms of scabies include rashes, red bumps, and grey lines, all over your body. The most affected areas of the body are the groin, thighs, waist, wrists, knees, ankles, armpits, upper back, forearms, and stomach. In babies, symptoms can appear on the scalp, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet.
The grey lines are caused when the mites dig there tunnels underneath your skin. The red bumps and rashes are caused by an immune reaction from toxic waste that the mites leave under your skin, like feces, bacteria, and thier decaying bodies after they die.
How is scabies diagnosed?
Scabies is diagnosed by scraping the surface of your skin, with a glass slide, then putting the slide under a microscope to look for the mites and thier feces. Honestly though, most doctors do not take the time to do this. Your doctor will probably just look for the characteristic grey lines along with the rashes and red bumps, to be confident enough that you have scabies.
What is the treatment for scabies?
The first line treatment for scabies, is 5% permetherin, and the second line treatment is oral ivermictin. However, scabies mites are becoming resistant to these drugs because they have been over prescribed for decades.
Many times, these drugs fail in treating scabies. This leads people to look for alternative treatments. I have personally researched over 50 different natural treatment for scabies to find something that is effective and does allow the mites to develop a resistance.
The answer I have come up with is salt. Believe it or not, salt is the most effective treatment for scabies that I have ever come across. It basically works by dehydrating the mites. This mechanism leaves no chance of them developing a resistance.
Here is how you can use salt to treat scabies. First you will need sea salt.
- Fill your bathtub up with warm water.
- Add 4 cups (2 pounds) of sea salt.
- Soak in your bathtub for 30-60 minutes.
- Repeat this everyday for a week, or until your symptoms are gone.
How can you prevent scabies?
You can prevent scabies by avoiding skin to skin contact with people who already have scabies. But how can you know in advance whether someone has scabies or not? The answer is that you won’t know unless they tell you. They might not even know themselves.
Other than avoiding people altogether, you can prevent scabies by using a known treatment preventatively. I don’t recommend doing this with prescription treatments, because they are toxic, and will cause serious side effects in the long term.
If your a regular bath taker, you can simply add salt to your bath to prevent scabies. If you like using essential oils, there are many different ones that you can rub on your skin to prevent scabies. Basically, anything that will kill a scabies mites will prevent you from getting them. You can see a list of 39 treatments for scabies here.