Scabies is a skin condition caused by burrowing mites called sarcoptes scabei. These mites dig into the skin, causing small, red bumps on the skin. Scabies is incredibly discomforting because it causes severe itching for the patient. Of greatest concern is the fact that scabies is extremely contagious. Taking the proper precautions can prevent a person from contracting scabies after someone close to him has contracted it.
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Wash hands and body regularly with warm water and soap to remove any mites that may have made contact with the skin. Using an antiseptic soap can help keep skin free of bacteria that may draw mites.
Launder the linens, pajamas and clothing of the infected person in hot, soapy water, recommends MayoClinic.com. This should include all items used in the days before diagnosis and treatment, as well as any items used most recently. In addition, these items should be dried on high heat to kill any mites that may have been living on these items after having made contact with the skin. It is okay to have dry clean items laundered at the dry cleaner; however, it is important to transport them in a plastic bag and advise the dry cleaner that they have been in contact with a person infected with scabies.
Rid non-clothing items of mites by starving and killing the inhabited mites. According to MayoClinic.com, mites will die if they do not eat in a week. Place items such as pillows or stuffed animals in a large plastic bag and tie a secure knot in the top. Store these bags in an offset location, such as the garage, for at least one week to kill any mites that may have been living on them.
Avoid contact with an infected person, whenever possible. This is often difficult to do when a family member or roommate has contracted scabies. However, if a coworker or someone outside the home has scabies, meetings or encounters should be limited or postponed until scabies clears up completely.