Scabies in Children: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Scabies in children: causes, symptoms & treatment

Infections and infestations can be caused due to numerous reasons, these can be due to internal factors like a developing immune system, an allergy or a wound. They can also be caused due to environmental factors, bug bites, airborne or touch-borne disease and mites. Scabies is a form of infestation.

What is Scabies?

When mites penetrate the first layer of the skin and begin laying eggs in that region small and itchy bumps begin to manifest, this condition is called scabies. In some cases, scabies rashes in children can become visible as wavy lines underneath the skin. These lines are most visible between the fingers and toes as well as the inner part of the wrist.

Causes of Scabies in Kids

The main cause of scabies in a baby or an adult is the presence of scabies mites – tiny creatures that burrow into the top layer of your skin, defecate and lay eggs there. They are known to survive underneath the skin for up to one full month. These mites can be found anywhere and are known to require a ‘host’ to survive, specifically human hosts. Without one they usually die within a day or two.

Scabies mites are the only root cause of scabies but the infection can spread via touch. Scabies can also be caused due to skin-to-skin contact between a healthy person and one with scabies.

Where Do Scabies Mites Live?

Scabies mites can live in numerous public spaces for up to two or three days, they can live on bed linen, towels, clothing, or even in your baby’s diaper. This, however, is limited to three days at most, as mentioned earlier these mites require a human being to sustain their life beyond three days. The most common residence for these mites is probably another person’s skin. Due to the rapid life cycle of these mites they can reproduce in mass numbers and quickly. This also is one of the reasons they can spread to other people at a rapid pace.

Can We See Scabies Mites?

Part of the same arachnid family as ticks and spiders, mites are bugs that are very difficult to see with your naked eye. A fully grown adult mite is possibly only the size of a tiny pin. These mites are usually circular in shape and have eight legs. These insects cannot be easily seen on most surfaces but if you pay focused attention you may be lucky enough to notice them before they do you or your kids any harm.

Is It Contagious and How Does it Spread?

Scabies is contagious. When in contact with another person with scabies you can contract this condition. It is most common to contract this condition in small crowded places where skin to skin contact is the hardest to avoid such as –

  • Daycare
  • Train Stations
  • Bus Stops
  • Schools
  • Airports

It is recommended that you treat the infection before the symptoms begin manifestation in the circumstance that there is anyone around you or your child that has been diagnosed with scabies.

Signs and Symptoms of Scabies

Due to the fact that the mites themselves are so small, here are a few signs and symptoms to look out for that will help with the diagnosis of scabies.

In Babies

Scabies in babies can begin manifesting within a period of 3-4 weeks, this can cause big red rashes at the bottom of your baby’s feet, between their fingers and toes, on the inside of their wrists and on the inside of their elbows. During this period your baby may cry extensively due to the itchiness of the condition itself.

In Toddler

Although the symptoms are identical to the symptoms that manifest in babies, toddlers are old enough to scratch the itch, this may lead to the infection spreading to multiple parts of their body. Additionally, your toddler may begin to show signs of manifestation on parts of their body like the face or the sides of the sole, this is not common for scabies in babies

Scabies in toddler

In Older Children

Like the symptoms of scabies rash in toddlers and babies, the symptoms for scabies in older children remain the same. In some cases, you may see light brown or silver wavy lines along the inside of the child’s wrist. As the child grows older they may be susceptible to more attacks of scabies or a recurrence. If the child has never had scabies before, the symptoms will take 6 weeks to begin to show. If they have, however, then the symptoms will show quicker.

Depending on the severity of scabies, your child may begin to develop pustules, pimples, and blisters all over the body. Whether it be scabies rashes in children or scabies in a baby the symptoms remain largely similar.

Why Does Scabies Infected Skin Itch So Much?

As mentioned earlier, mites can burrow through your baby’s or your skin, they then lay eggs and leave behind faeces inside the top layer of your skin, this can lead to severe allergic reactions as well as an infection. This creates an unbearable itch.

How is the Diagnosis Done?

The diagnosis of scabies can be done by a simple and pain-free test, a doctor will shave off some of the rash’s skin and examine it under a microscope for mites, their eggs and faeces. If present the diagnosis is positive.

Treatments for Scabies

The main treatment for scabies is usually topical. You may need to apply ointments and lotions on the scabs themselves as well as the remainder of the body.

Medicines Your Health Specialist May Prescribe

In most cases, your doctor will prescribe medicated lotions and creams to help terminate the mites. In some severe cases, they may prescribe oral medication instead of the more commonly found topical ointments and creams.

Steps for Applying the Cream

It is extremely important to understand that scabies is an infectious disease, to treat it thoroughly it is important to apply the medicated cream in the following steps.

  • Cut your child’s fingernails and toenails.
  • Ensure you gently apply and spread the medicated cream over the scabs and rashes first.
  • Apply the cream over the entire surface of your child’s skin as well.
  • If you have a child old enough to scratch, apply the cream on the face and scalp as well as the surface areas of the ears. Do not miss any portion of the body, this ensures every mite is dead and the infection is regressing.
  • Ensure the cream stays on for the required period of time as per the doctor’s instructions. A safe way of doing this is ensuring your child has the cream applied to them at night when they’re sleeping. When doing this please ensure the child has gloves on so they don’t accidentally swallow the cream.
  • The period required for the cream to take effect is between 8 to 12 hours, wash off the cream once the time period as mentioned by your doctor has expired.
  • Do not miss any days; continue this treatment religiously for the entire prescription period.

Possible Complications Of Scabies in a Child

Due to the particular nature of scabies, there can be numerous complications for the infection itself like:

  • Puss cells in the rashes
  • Infected pimples
  • A skin condition called Impetigo

For more information about the complications caused by scabies, please contact your doctor.

Prevention of Scabies

Prevention of scabies can be a challenge; the following can help prevent scabies to a certain extent:

  • Sweep and mop the floor regularly
  • Vacuum the house, throw away the vacuum bag
  • Wash all laundry with heated water
  • Dispose of diapers that you suspect are infected

It is not completely possible to avoid scabies even if you follow these steps as it can be contracted via touch. If anyone in your child’s proximity has scabies consult a doctor immediately.

Prevention of scabies

How Soon Does Scabies Go Away

Depending on how severe the infection itself is and when treatment is started, scabies can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. To ensure a complete recovery please follow the doctor’s instructions to the letter for the entire duration of the treatment plan.

Can Your Child Get Scabies from Your Pet?

No, humans cannot be infected by the strain of scabies that affects animals

What Precautions Should Family Member Take?

As with other children who may have scabies, your child having the infection can spread to other members of your family, it is recommended that they consult a doctor immediately and take preventive action.

When Should You Call the Doctor?

It is recommended that you contact a doctor if your child begins crying extensively, if they begin to scratch uncontrollably or if you notice scabies rashes at any part of their body. It is also recommended that you consult a doctor and begin preventive treatment for scabies if anyone in your baby’s proximity has the infection.

Can Your Scabies Infected Child Go to School?

No, as mentioned earlier scabies is contagious. It is highly recommended that your child is kept from public spaces for the duration of the treatment to ensure nobody else contracts the infection.

Thing to Remember

It is important to remember the following:

  • Do not stop the scabies treatment midway
  • Keep the surroundings clean to ensure preventive action
  • Spread the cream to every portion of your child’s and your body.
  • Do not self-medicate
  • Do not self-diagnose

Scabies can be an extremely uncomfortable and troubling infestation for your child. Its contagious nature makes it difficult to manage the disease. If you suspect that your child may have scabies, place them under quarantine from the rest of your family and consult a physician immediately. For the wellbeing of your child, it is recommended they rest and recuperate completely before resuming their regular activities.

Also Read:

Psoriasis in Children
Eczema in Kids