Scabies is caused by an infestation of the itch mite. These microscopic creatures burrow into the skin and lay eggs. A patient with scabies feels intense itching and has a skin rash that can affect the whole body or limited to common sites, for example, elbows, wrists, waist, and fingers. The patient can also have scales and blisters. Scabies is spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
Scabies can affect all genders and ages. The mites spread quickly when close body contact is frequent. When a person is infested for the first time, symptoms may appear only six weeks later. However, if a person has previously had scabies, symptoms will appear within four days.
Patients can sometimes see tiny burrows on the skin; these are mite tunnels beneath the surface of the skin. The burrows look like crooked skin-colored lines. Treatment for scabies includes creams and oral medications to kill mites and their eggs. These medications are only available with a prescription, thus a visit to a specialist is necessary.
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