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Scabies

What is scabies?

  • Scabies or “the itch” is a contagious skin disease caused by a small animal: the scabies mite.  
  • The adult female digs superficial tunnels (maximum 1.5 cm long) in the skin in which it lays its eggs.  
  • You can see the tunnels mainly on your wrist and between your fingers.

 What causes scabies?

  • Infection is caused by long-lasting or regular, intensive skin contact with someone who has scabies.  
  • Sexual contact or the joint use of bed and clothing.  
  • Someone with scabies is contagious as long the mites in the skin can reproduce.

What are the complaints?

  • One of the most important complaints in case of scabies is increasing itching as a result of an allergic reaction to the mite, the eggs and the faeces of the mite.  
  • The first time someone gets infected it takes 2 to 6 weeks before there are complaints.  
  • With the next infection itching returns after a few days because there is already an allergy for the scabies mite.

The scabies mite prefers certain places on the body: 

  • The hand palms and the skin between the fingers
  • The wrist, elbow, foot and genitalia 
  • Itching can occur over the entire body and is often more serious at night when you are in bed and feel warm
  • On the skin you may see blisters, red bumps and scales.  You can see the tunnels mainly on your wrist and between your fingers.

How is the infection diagnosed?

  • Scabies is detected by examining the skin scales under the microscope and check for the presence of mites and eggs.  
  • It is not always necessary to find the presence of mite in order to get treatment.  
  • People with complaints that may point at scabies and/or may be infected by someone with scabies are often treated without visible evidence of the presence of mite.

Treatment

  • Scabies can be treated well with a special cream that kills mites as well as eggs.  
  • Use it as mentioned on the information leaflet.  Approximately 3 to 14 days after the treatment you are free of complaints and the skin infections are healed.  
  • Sometimes there are serious forms of scabies and these require a longer treatment.  
  • It is very important to treat your partner/children , they may be infected also, and to wash the clothes and bed linen well.

Work advice

  • Don’t work during the treatment. 
  • Start working again after the complaints have disappeared.  
  • After the treatment you are no longer infectious.