Scabies: what’s the best way to help against the annoying mite epidemic

Scabies: Unintentional visit by mites

  • Scabies are caused by mites that settle on the skin of humans.
  • The mites can be transmitted from person to person at any time, whereby hygienic circumstances play no greater role .
  • If children and babies are affected by scabies, it must be weighed whether a treatment with creams or medications is more compatible.

What is that? Suddenly the skin starts to itch and you think of a rash. But another cause of this can be the infectious disease scabies. Only after weeks does the person concerned notice the work of small mites, which lay their eggs under the uppermost skin layer. Then the itching begins and it is up to the affected person to put an end to the suffering as soon as possible. Find out where the scabies come from and how to treat scabies in children and babies.

1. Causes: The mite picks its own host

The female itch mite is up to 0.5 mm large.

Scabies are caused by itch mites (Sarcoptes scabiei), which can attack humans through a variety of ways. The mite relies on humans as hosts and can only survive in a different environment for a short time. An itch mite is up to 0.5 millimeters in size and roundish. It needs oxygen like other mites, which is why it always stays on the skin or only in the first layer of skin. It feeds on lymph and skin cells.

While the male mite mites settle on the uppermost skin layer, the female mites drill passages into the horny layer. There they dig passages, at the end of which they lay their eggs. The reddish lines of the corridors can be seen on closer inspection, sometimes they are missing. she always close with the mite hill, which can be recognized as a red nodule at first glance. The human body reacts to the mite infestation smallest inflammation of the skin, which are getting worse from the scratching. Itching mites multiply very quickly, which is why, depending on the type of mite, after just a few weeks large parts of the body can be affected. Dross is not dangerous.

Scabies can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Therefore, the disease is one of the sexually transmitted diseases.

2. Symptoms: Itching and inflamed nodules

The scabies are mostly only noticeable after a few weeks, after the female mites have burrowed into the top layer of skin to lay their eggs there.

Then, sufferers may experience the following symptoms:

  • extreme strongeritching
  • scaly skin with small Nodules and pimples, where the mites lay their eggs
  • by the itching can the Skin very red and scratched bloody his
  • If you look very closely you can see the passageways of the mites between the nodules
  • Very rarely does the immune system react to the infestation with one Rash on the whole body

Mites need a warm climate to get around. Therefore, the itching occurs especially at night under the warm duvet.

In addition to the classic, common scabies, there are special forms that bring depending on the severity lighter or more severe symptoms. Here is an overview of the most common forms.

Type of scabies description
Well-groomed Scabies (Scabies incognita) Here are often missing the mite mound and the itching occurs supposedly without cause. This particular form often shows in people who bathe often.
Granulomatous scabies (Scabies granulomatosa) Here, red to brown nodular inflammations form, which reach into deeper skin layers. They often persist long after the end of treatment and are believed to be due to mites that have reached deeper layers of the skin.
Scabies crustosa Particularly severe form of scabies, which occurs especially in immunocompromised people (the elderly, babies and children). The infestation is very strong, the scalp may be affected. It is also a transmission over objects possible. Even after a successful treatment, individual itchy areas may persist.

As the mites usually do not penetrate into deeper skin layers and need oxygen to survive, Scabies especially on the following, softer skin spots:

  • Hand and wrists
  • between the fingers and toes
  • belly button
  • Chest and armpit area
  • genital area

If there are scabies in children, this can also on the soles of the feet or on the face to be found because the cornea is even thinner in children.

3. Transmission: Long body contact is necessary

Itchy mites like it warm, which is why the itching mainly occurs in bed at night.

The itch mites are transmitted from person to person. For this it needs one Close skin contact lasting a few minutes. In the case of scabies, only a few mites usually settle on the body, because before it could come to an enormous population, treatment is usually initiated. However, only a single female mite is sufficient to transmit the scabies to a human as a new host.

The infection is possible in all age groups and independent of the hygienic measures. The scabies in babies and children, for example, can when cuddling with the parents are transferred. Also one Infection in kindergarten is possible in principle. In hospitals and care facilities, the transmission is at Cleaning and caring for patients possible. Not least, scabies can also transmitted via sexual intercourse become.

The transmission of ordinary scabies on clothes or bed covers, however, is very rare. The mites can survive only a few hours outside their host and they move very slowly.

4. Course and Diagnosis: Quick successes possible

The scabies may show up by inflammatory nodules.

If itchy mites infest the skin, it will not be noticed by those affected. eIt usually takes between three and six weeks, until our immune system registers the intruder and react with the typical symptoms. An exception is when too many itch mites colonize the skin. The immune reaction can then occur after a few days.

Once the symptoms appear, the sufferer should see a doctor. Sometimes it is possible to make a diagnosis immediately when looking at the skin. However, as a rule, the physician will use one of the following options to diagnose scabies:


In the early 20th century, the US Navy developed an insecticide of ground chrysanthemum flowers and petroleum. It was used against mosquitoes and flies. Today, the natural product pyrethrins is also used in skin ointments for scabies.

  • reflected light microscope: Here, the skin of the person affected is examined directly. Under the reflected-light microscope, the physician recognizes the typical scabies pictures of mites and, if necessary, the mites. Sometimes the mites themselves can be seen.
  • ink method: On one of the nodules on the skin, some water-soluble ink is dripped. Then the ink is gently rubbed off with an alcohol-containing pad. This will reveal the corridors colored by the ink.
  • Scotch tape demolition: One of the intact mite mounds on the skin of the patient is slightly greased. Then the physician sticks an adhesive strip on the affected skin and tears off the tape with a jerk. This is how mites or larvae stick. Under the microscope, the attending physician examines the adhesive strip and can finally diagnose the scabies.
  • Microscopic examinationThe doctor opens one of the nodules in which the female mite sits with its eggs and larvae. He scrapes out the mite mound and examines the material under a microscope.

If the scabies occur again, the immune system reacts faster and the itching occurs after a few days.

5. Treatment and Prevention: Get rid of itch mites with ointments

For the transmission of the scabies it requires body contact over several minutes.

Once the scabies are diagnosed, the measures to combat them can be started. Normally is sufficient for outpatient treatment. Only in severe cases, such as scabies crustosa, a hospital treatment is necessary. If babies have scabies, it must be weighed whether home therapy is possible.

For the treatment of scabies can Medications (systemic therapy) or ointments (topical therapy) be applied. The goal is always that the itch mites are killed with eggs and larvae. Especially common In this case, the insecticide permethrin is used.

The Skin cream is applied over a large area to the affected place and according to the doctor’s instructions washed off after eight to twelve hours. In the best case, after the single treatment all pathogens are killed and a complete cure has occurred. If the scabies do not go away, the treatment can be repeated after 14 days. If the scabies come again and again, the drug treatment can be initiated.

Tip: In Germany, there is no obligation to report scabies.

Supportive to conventional medical treatment can Baby oil and tea tree oil as a home remedy used to nourish stressed skin and reduce itching. There are also some attempts in which the tea tree oil killed the mites by rubbing the affected areas.

5.1. Treating scabies in pregnant women and breastfeeding

The itch mites and their larvae show up under the microscope.

Kick the scabies during pregnancy or while breastfeeding There is no official therapy yet. The common medicines and ointments are toxic in high doses and get into the organism through ingestion or the skin. So it can happen that the Active ingredients via the breast milk or the placenta to the baby reach. Studies on the consequences do not exist so far. The treating physician must therefore weigh together what treatment is possible.

5.2. Scabies in babies and children

In children and babies, the scabies are particularly difficult to treat, because the little ones suffer from the itching enormously. On Child is scratching unchecked, whereby the inflammations can intensify. Between the detection of the disease and the start of treatment, the affected child may not being at school or going to kindergarten. If the child has been treated for scabies, they may visit the facility again.

5.3. Beware of further infection

For treatment, the affected areas are creamed with an ointment.

Since the incubation period is very long, an infection with scabies can be very late visible. If the scabies now occur in the family and this is treated, should therefore All family members should also be treated as a precaution. You may have already infected yourself unknowingly. In order to prevent all transmission paths, duvet covers, bedspreads etc. should be washed thoroughly.

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Christina Cherry
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