Scabies in Children: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
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- What Is Scabies?
- Causes of Scabies in Kids
- Where Do Scabies Mites Live?
- Can We See Scabies Mites?
- Is It Contagious and How Does it Spread?
- Signs and Symptoms of Scabies
- Why Does Scabies Infected Skin Itch So Much?
- How Is the Diagnosis Made?
- Treatment for Scabies
- Medicines Your Health Specialist May Prescribe
- Steps for Applying the Cream
- Possible Complications of Scabies in Babies
- Prevention of Scabies
- How Soon Does Scabies Go Away?
- Can Your Child Get Scabies From Your Pet?
- What Precautions Should Family Members Take?
- When Should You Call the Doctor?
- Can Your Scabies Infected Child Go to School?
- Thing to Remember
Infections and infestations can be caused due to numerous reasons; they 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, a form of infestation, can become a cause of concern for many parents. Read on to know what it is, what causes it, and how it can be treated.
What Is Scabies?
Scabies is a condition that occurs when mites penetrate the first layer of the skin and begin laying eggs in that region. It leads to small and itchy bumps on the affected part of the body. 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 babies or adults is the presence of scabies mites – tiny creatures that burrow into the top layer of your skin. They defecate, lay eggs and 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. They, however, can survive only for three days at most if they do not have a host to survive. 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 why 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; you can contract the condition when in contact with another person with scabies. It is most common to contract this condition in small crowded places where skin to skin contact is the hardest to avoid such as –
- Train Stations
- Bus Stops
It is recommended that you treat the infection before the symptoms begin manifesting 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.
1. 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.
2. In Toddlers
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. Your toddler may begin to show signs on the face or the sides of the sole, which is not commonly seen in babies affected with scabies.
3. 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, he may be susceptible to more attacks of scabies or a recurrence. If the child has never had scabies before, the symptoms will take six weeks to begin to show. However, if he has had it already, 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 Made?
A simple and pain-free test can help doctors diagnose the condition. He/she will shave off some of the skin rash and examine it under a microscope for mites, their eggs and faeces. If present, the diagnosis is positive.
Treatment 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 starting from the neck (it is not applied on the face).
- Ensure the cream stays on for the required period of time as per the doctor’s instructions. A safe way of doing this is to apply the cream at night when your child is sleeping, and cover the area with clothing (onesie, gloves, mittens or socks, depending on where you’ve applied the cream), so he won’t accidentally touch the cream and swallow it.
- 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 Babies
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. However, you can take the following precautions to prevent it 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.
How Soon Does Scabies Go Away?
Depending on how severe the infection itself is and when the treatment was started, scabies can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. To ensure a complete recovery, please follow the doctor’s instructions 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 Members Take?
As with other children who may have scabies, your child having the infection can spread to other members of your family. It is, therefore, recommended that you 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 he begins to scratch uncontrollably or if you notice scabies rashes at any part of his 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 him under quarantine from the rest of your family and consult a physician immediately. For the wellbeing of your child, it is recommended he rests and recuperates completely before resuming his regular activities.