Scabies is a highly contagious infection of the skin caused by an itch-mite parasite. This infection occurs when a pregnant female itch mite burrows into the skin and lays eggs. Scabies is an infection that is more common in areas where people are in close contact, such as daycare centers, nursing homes and schools. The hands, fingers, wrists, waist, genitals, breasts and lower buttocks are the most common locations for a scabies infection.
A scabies infection causes swelling, redness, severe itching and scabs, which 25 percent of the time are accompanied by burrow lines, or thin, red lines or dots on the skin.
Scabies is transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual; the infection cannot be transmitted from animals or surfaces.
The standard of treatment for scabies is a scabacide lotion applied to the entire body for at least 12 hours- alternative treatments such as neem oil or tea tree oil may provide relief but are not a cure.
Avoiding contact with infected individuals is the best prevention; however, scabies is difficult to prevent since an infected person can be contagious and without symptoms for up to two months.
The itch mites that cause scabies are not able to live outside of the human body; therefore, extensive cleaning of anything other than bedding after a scabies infection is not necessary.