Health Education


Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 8 Sep 2014 - 15:13.

The very name scabies comes from a Latin word which means, "to scratch" and the disease scabies is notorious for being labeled, as the itchiest disease next only to severe allergic reaction known to cause intractable itching.

Scabies is a condition caused by minute bugs called parasitic mites, which are microscopic in size. These mites burrow under the skin and produce a thin rash reddish in appearance along with severe itching. The surest way of getting this infection is when your child held by or had any skin-to-skin contact with someone who has scabies. Rarely though it can be passed on to a healthy child by contaminated clothes, bedding or even towels.

Anyone can get scabies. Scrupulous cleanliness might prevent the infection though it is by no means a rule that one cannot get it if they keep themselves very clean. Scabies has no periodicity and can affect any one in any season. It is extremely contagious and day care children get this in epidemic proportions.

The unwelcome guests in the shape of mites cause an allergic reaction when the female mites burrow under the skin laying eggs and depositing feces, which trigger the allergic reaction with intractable itching.

The rule of thumb for the mother is to immediately call for a doctor the moment she notices an unidentified red rash that seems painful and itchy. The sooner you can diagnose and get it treated the sooner the child will be comfortable. The doctor will examine the rash and take a small scrapping of the a small piece of skin to examine it under a microscope to identify the scabies mites and their eggs under magnification.

If your child has severely itchy rash of scattered and isolated red patches most commonly between the fingers over the finger webs, around the wrists, and over the elbows, armpits, around umbilicus, the nipple area, lower part of abdomen and the genitals it is almost certain the child has scabies. Though scabies is not commonly seen over the scalp. Soles of feet, scalp and face in older children this may be the case in babies.

The itching aggravates after a hot bath and mostly seen during nights when the child keeps awake in the night. You may notice razor-thin red lines over the areas where the mites have burrowed under the skin. In most cases nasty looking scabs may be formed which invite superimposed infections.

If your baby has scabies for the first time it may take roughly 4 weeks from the time the mites latch into the child and the itching to appear. If he had scabies earlier it only needs a couple of days for the waiting period for itching to start. This could be due to quicker reaction time during subsequent exposures.

Ascabiol lotion is the drug of choice, which every doctor prescribes the moment he confirms it as a case of scabies. You should follow the instructions as to how to apply the lotion and apply it on the whole body below the level of the neck and not just over the rash.

It is important to:

  • Undress the baby fully without a semblance of any clothes. Wash your hands thoroughly and take a small clean brush. Shake the bottle thoroughly and pour some thick lotion into a sterilized container.
  • Apply the lotion to the whole body with the brush as if you are painting the body. While applying it make sure that you apply it over all the finger and toe webs and around the anal and genital areas and take care not to apply it above the level of the neck.
  • Apply it at bedtime and give the child a bath the next morning and burn all old clothing worn by the child. Repeat the process for one or two more sessions. Ideally all the inmates should undergo the same procedure along with the child to avoid re-infection.
  • Cover the hands of your baby with baby mittens or any clean cloth to prevent the child from putting the medicine in the mouth.
  • Prevent the child from scratching. You should therefore cut her nails short. Applying mittens over the hands might help soothe the child even if the child starts scratching.
  • Apply cortisone creams if prescribed by the doctor to reduce the itching, since the itching might last for considerable length of period.

Your baby can return to the daycare after treatment with the lotion though the itching continues for some time, since it takes more time for the feces left by the mites to disappear.

Though sufficient evidence is lacking to prove that infected clothing are the root cause for this infection it is always a good practice to keep the surroundings clean, boil all the used linen including towels.

The only way to avoid scabies affecting your child is to avoid contacts of the child with anyone who has got the disease. Good hygiene, though not a guarantee may help infection from setting in.

*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.