Scabies infestation, caused by the Sarcoptic scabiei mite, is characterized by intense, nocturnal itching. Infestation occurs when the scabies mite burrows into the skin and lays eggs. The hatching process causes intense itching. The burrowing mite creates nodular bumps in the area of infestation, describes the Harvard Health Publication, Health Central.com. Prescription medication is necessary to treat the infestation, and the itching and nodules can continue even after treatment is complete.
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Scabies infestations abate within one month of prescription treatment. There are no Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter infestation remedies, so continued treatment by a physician is essential. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, indicates that the symptoms of scabies result from allergic reactions to the mites and their feces, so itching can continue for several weeks after treatment. The CDC also advises that if skin sores become infected, they should be treated with a prescribed antibiotic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend the use of insecticide sprays or fumigants on clothing, bedding or furnishings because the scabiei mite does not survive for more than two or three days away from the skin. It is important to wash towels, linens and all clothing used within three days prior to treatment but no extra washing, high-water temperatures or toxic chemicals are required because the mites do not survive normal washing procedures. It is not necessary to wash clean clothes or fumigate furnishings. The scabiei mite is only contagious prior to treatment, notes The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
Appearance and Discomfort of Nodules
Nodules on the penis, vagina, breast, armpits and skin folds from the scabies infestation may continue for several months. Steroidal creams or injections in and around the nodules are known to relieve discomfort. To prevent additional side effects, The Unit of Knowledge website notes that this treatment should only be performed by the treating physician, for both initial treatment and symptoms. Over-the-counter medications do not completely eradicate the infestations like prescription-grade treatments.
Scabies Treatments for Significant Others
Infected individuals should notify their family after receiving treatment. It is important to notify any household member or significant others who may have had sexual or skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Individuals who have had prolonged skin-to-skin contact should be examined and treated by a doctor to avoid reinfestation, notes the CDC. When a person becomes infested again, the infection can spread rapidly. The treatment is 95 percent effective with the first administration; however, if those around the patient are infected, infestation can reoccur.
The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology advises that older treatments such as lindane, have been found to be too toxic to the body. The organization also indicates that some sulfur ointments and anti-itch, over-the-counter remedies may be used to relieve symptoms of itching and scabbing but are not effective for treating infestations. Physician-prescribed scabicides and antibiotics are required to kill the mites and to heal infection from burrowing mites. The organization notes that newer, more-effective treatments for scabies infestations include oral ivermectin pills. This medication is not widely used for individual cases of scabies but is beneficial for larger outbreaks.