SCABIES: THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH
One of the many different skin conditions our private doctors at LDC come across is Scabies. Unlike other conditions, caused by bacteria, fungus or even the body's own immune system (in the case of eczema), Scabies is caused by tiny mites!
If someone you're in close contact with has recently had Scabies, or you've discovered a suspicious rash you're concerned might be attributable to this condition, you can learn more about the condition in this article. If you think you may have Scabies, why not book in for a GP consultation at London Doctors Clinic to assess the suspect rash?!
What is Scabies?
Scabies is caused by mites, which go by the formal name Sarcoptes scabiei. These mites can burrow through the outer part of the skin, and lay their eggs under this layer of skin.
After 3 or 4 days, these eggs hatch releasing baby mites (larvae) which can come back out onto the surface of the skin and mature into adult mites.
The mites prefer warm areas such as skin folds, particularly between the fingers, underneath he finger nails, around the buttocks or in breast creases. They can even make their way under watch straps, bracelets or rings!
Scabies is caused by mites, which can burrow through the outer part of the skin
Symptoms of Scabies?
Scabies causes intense itching together with a rash in the places where the mites have entered into the skin. This will cause lots of tiny red spots, which may become crusted sores. You may also notice burrow marks, which are short, wavy, silver lines on the skin with a black dot on one end.
You are likely to spot burrow marks in the following places:
- The folds of skin between fingers and toes
- The palms of hands
- The soles and sides of feet
- The wrists and elbow
- Around the nipples (mainly in women)
- Around the genitals (more commonly in men)
You are likely to spot burrow marks in the folds of the skin between the toes
The symptom of itching is often worse at night, because the body is warmer at night and these insects prefer the warmer environments!
Sometimes, anything between 4 to 6 weeks can pass between you catching Scabies, and the itching symptom starting to develop. This is because the itching is due to the body’s reaction to the mite droppings, which take time to develop. However, if you’ve had scabies before, this will occur more quickly.
How Do You Catch Scabies?
Scabies is really common in areas with dense population, especially if there isn’t widespread access to healthcare. It is especially common in tropical and subtropical areas such as Africa, Central and South America Australia and the Caribbean.
However, in Europe, scabies can occur places where there a lot of people regularly, such as schools, nurseries or care homes.
In the UK, scabies outbreaks tend to take place in the winter. This is thought to be because people spend more time indoors and therefore in closer quarters, with more opportunity of the mites to pass between people!
You should visit your doctors surgery straight away, if you think you may have scabies. Although scabies is not serious, you will need to get treatment to reduce the risk of other people around you - such as partners, family, housemates - from also catching it.
The treatment from Scabies usually involves one or two creams/gels: Permethrin cream and malathion lotion. Both of these are insecticides, meaning they target and kill those little critters!
Usually your GP will prescribe Permethrin 5% cream first. If that does not work, and your Scabies is resistant to this first-line treatment, then Malathion lotion is added. You can also get separate prescriptions for other creams or even antihistamines if itching is a particular problem.
Some people can get genital scabies. If you or your partner catch genital scabies, you need to go to your nearest sexual health clinic for a check-up and treatment. To make sure treatment is effective and that reinfection is avoided, do not have sex or other close bodily contact until the infection has gone away and the treatment has been completed.
Preventing Transmission of Scabies
It is important to try and minimise the risk of other people catching scabies. If you get diagnosed with scabies you should wash all your bed linen, nightwear and towels at a temperature above 50 degrees in order to kill off the scabies mites.
You are more at risk of scabies and some more serious complications of scabies if you are very young, very elderly or have problems with your immune system.
So if you're concerned about Scabies, or perhaps you were recently diagnosed with it and want to check that the treatment had been successful, why not pop into LDC for a 15-minute GP consultation from £89? A small price for diagnosis, treatment, and - more importantly - peace of mind. With 12 private clinics located across Central London, we should never be too far away when you're in search of a "doctors near me"!