Microsoft word - scabies information sheet for the public - aug 28, 2009
SCABIES FACTS SHEET – FOR THE PUBLIC
If you have questions call:
Public Health: (306) 786-0600
Facility Infection Control: (306) 786-0639
What is Scabies?
Scabies is an itchy condition of the skin caused by a tiny mite called Sarcoptes scabiei
. It is estimated that more than 300 million cases of scabies occur worldwide
every year. Scabies is not a result of bad personal hygiene. Scabies can
occur to anyone.
Scabies infestations can affect people from all socioeconomic
levels without regard to age, sex, race or standards of personal hygiene. Clusters of
cases, or outbreaks, are occasionally seen in health care facilities, institutions, and
child care centers.
What Causes Scabies?
Scabies rash is caused by a mite (Sarcoptes scabiei
) which burrows under the skin
to lay their eggs. The mite is about .4mm and can be seen with the human eye. The rash and the itch are widespread and may occur on parts of the body where mites are not burrowed under the skin.
What are the Symptoms of Scabies?
The most common symptoms of scabies are: intense or night-time itching, rash, little red bumps. In more advanced cases of scabies, the skin may be crusty or scaly. The areas of the skin most affected by scabies include the webs and sides of the fingers, around the wrists, elbows and armpits, waist, thighs, genitalia, nipples,
breasts, and lower buttocks. Symptoms may appear two to six weeks after contact in people who have not previously been exposed to scabies infestations. People who have had a previous bout with scabies mites may show symptoms within one to four days after
subsequent re-exposures. A person is able to spread scabies until mites and eggs are destroyed by treatment.
Can Scabies be Treated?
Scabies can be treated. Talk to your doctor, nurse practitioner or public health
nurse about the appropriate medication. The most common treatments are creams that are applied to the skin.
How is Scabies Spread?
Humans spread scabies to one another. It is often spread from one person to another by close contact. Since the scabies mite is not able to jump or fly, the only way to acquire the infection is by direct contact with an infected person or by contact with infected linens, clothing, or furniture.
What attracts the Scabies Mite?
A female mite is attracted to warmth and odor. The female mite burrows into the skin, lays eggs, and produces secretions that cause the skin to itch.
Scabies prefers warmer sites on the skin such as skin folds where clothing is tight. Some of the most common sites of skin are:
• between the fingers • on the elbows or wrists • buttocks or belt line • around the nipples • on the penis
Mites might also hide in, or on, the skin under rings, bracelets or watchbands, or under the nails.
Currently, the recommended treatment for scabies is 5% permethrin cream (NIX)
and is available over the counter or through a physician's prescription. The lotion is
applied to the whole body except the head and neck. It is important that
persons who have had skin contact with an infected person (including
family members, roommates, direct care providers, and sexual contacts)
should also be treated.
Pregnant mothers and breastfeeding mothers should
contact your Family Doctor prior to treatment .
Length of symptoms:
Itching may continue for 2-3 weeks even after the application of treatment, and does not mean that infestation is still present. Health care providers may prescribe additional medication for the itching if it is severe. No new burrows or rashes should appear 24-48 hours after effective treatment.
Preventing the spread of scabies:
Prompt identification of scabies infestation and appropriate treatment are essential in preventing ongoing transmission. New rashes or change in skin condition should be reported to your doctor.
Instructions for using scabies medication:
Read the insert that accompanies the medication for specifics
• Remove rings, bracelets, and watches. Wearing a new pair of gloves for each
person treated; apply a thin layer over the entire body from the neck down. Pay particular attention to the hands (especially between the fingers), the
belly button, under the breast, the entire genital area, the area between the buttocks, and the feet (between the toes and the bottom of the feet).
• Trim fingernails and toenails short. Apply medication thoroughly under the
• Leave medication on as long as recommended or check the medication insert
• If any body part needs to be washed, reapply medication to that area.
• After recommended time, wash medication off with lukewarm, soapy water
• Place all worn clothes in a plastic bag to be washed.
The treatment may cause some skin irritation- this is normal, you may have to apply a dry skin lotion after bathing for several weeks DO NOT APPLY THE SCABIES MEDICATION MORE OFTEN THAN IS RECOMMENDED BY YOUR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL
Cleaning the Home:
Since the scabies mite can live up to 4 days without human body contact, it is important to treat the environment to destroy any live scabies mites as soon as prescription treatment begins. This includes the following:
• Bedding (sheets, pillows, comforters)
Day of Treatment:
Immediately after applying treatment for scabies, clean all bedding, towels and clothing worn in the past 4 days (remember to include jackets, gloves, hats).
Wash all items in hot water and dry in hot dryer. Wear gloves when doing laundry and discard immediately after. If any clothing cannot be washed in hot water, it can be placed in sealed plastic bag for seven days.
Any items that cannot be washed (like stuffed animals, some clothing etc.) must be placed in a sealed plastic bag for at least seven days.
All washable surfaces (tabletops, countertop, floors, and bathrooms) must be thoroughly washed with your usual cleanser.
Vacuum all rugs, furniture and mattresses.
Start with a fresh vacuum bag and discard in sealed plastic bag when done.
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