Overview of scabies
Scabies is caused by mites that feed on blood and burrow into the skin to lay eggs, leading to a repeating cycle if left untreated. Despite being highly contagious through skin-to-skin contact, it is not a sexually transmitted infection but is sometimes confused as one. Transmission can also occur through infested clothing or bedding, unrelated to hygiene. Those in close living or working conditions, such as in nurseries or care homes, are at higher risk. Winter months see more outbreaks due to increased indoor proximity. Although easily treatable with over-the-counter products, estimating the UK’s scabies prevalence is challenging as not all cases require medical visits. Given its contagious nature and an incubation period of up to 8 weeks, it is recommended that contacts of affected individuals also undergo treatment to minimize the risk of transmission.
Signs and symptoms of scabies
Scabies is a skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the outer layer of the skin, leading to a range of distinctive signs and symptoms. One hallmark indication is the presence of a scabies rash, characterized by silvery lines with a dot at one end, left behind by mite eggs. This rash often begins between the fingers, forming clusters and appearing patchy. As the infestation progresses, the rash can spread across the entire body, except for the head, where it transforms into tiny red spots. In certain cases, especially among older individuals, young children, or those with weakened immune systems, scabies may also manifest as a rash on the head and neck.
Intense itching, particularly worsening at night, is a prominent symptom of scabies. The mites are drawn to warm areas, such as skin folds, spaces between fingers, under fingernails, and around the creases of the buttocks or breasts. Infestation can also occur in less expected places, like under watch straps, bracelets, or rings. It is essential for individuals experiencing these symptoms to seek prompt medical attention. Timely recognition and treatment of scabies are crucial not only for relieving discomfort but also for preventing the spread of the infestation to others. If you suspect scabies or notice any of these symptoms, consulting a healthcare professional is advisable for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.
Treatment of scabies
Treating scabies involves a comprehensive approach to eliminate the mites and relieve symptoms. One of the mainstay treatments is the use of prescription or over-the-counter topical creams, lotions, or ointments containing scabicide medications such as permethrin or ivermectin. These medications work by directly targeting the mites and their eggs, effectively killing them. It is crucial to follow the prescribed application instructions meticulously, covering the entire body from the neck down and leaving the treatment on for the specified duration before washing it off.
In addition to topical treatments, it is recommended to wash all clothing, bedding, and personal items in hot water and dry them on the highest heat setting to eliminate any lingering mites. Vacuuming living spaces and car interiors can help remove mites that may have fallen off the skin. Since scabies is highly contagious, it is advised that close contacts, including family members and individuals sharing living spaces, undergo simultaneous treatment to prevent re-infestation. While the treatment effectively eliminates the mites, itching may persist for several weeks after treatment. It’s important to refrain from scratching to avoid potential skin infections and to closely monitor the affected areas to ensure no spots have been missed during the application of scabicide medications.
At Oxona Healthcare, we can diagnose and treat your scabies effectively whilst providing moral support during the phase of horrible itching.
What sort of appointment should I make?
Your first appointment should be a 30 minute ‘skin diagnosis and treatment’ appointment. Subsequent appointments can usually be 15 minute follow up appointments.
Can I claim for my appointment on insurance?
You need to speak to your insurer prior to your appointment. Some insurers will reimburse you for the appointment, but you will need to present any documentation at the time of your appointment for the doctor to sign. Please note that all our doctors are registered with the GMC on the GP register not the consultant register. Please ensure you make this clear to your insurers at the outset.
How it works
From the moment you book your appointment to post-treatment care, we’re here to support you.
- Booking your appointment
With Oxona, there’s no need for a referral and you can book your appointment online, over the phone or by email. All appointments require a pre-paid deposit due at the time of booking.
Our specialists will give you the time you need to discuss your problem, making sure you are truly heard. Your questions will be answered with understanding and impartial advice, so you feel ready to make an informed decision.
- Treatment plan
Our treatment plans are based on you as an individual, rather than off the shelf. Taking into account your symptoms, medical history and any anxieties, we’ll explore all available options and respect your decisions.
Your care doesn’t end after your treatment. Our team are on hand to offer free post-operative support, and to answer any questions about your treatment plan.