DEALING WITH SCABIES

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Compiled by Angela Mutiso

This Ailment Can Last Indefinitely If Not Treated

Cynthia was panicky as she stared at her daughter’s arms, tarnished by tiny swellings. Virginia’s sudden ailment surprised her, prompting a hasty trip to the hospital where a worrying truth was exposed. The doctor’s diagnosis indicated that scabies had invaded the poor girl’s delicate skin.

 The physician explained to her anxious mother that either she had been exposed to unclean environments or had come into contact with infected individuals. This unsettling situation left Cynthia in discomfort, for it not only attracted social condemnation but also proved visually repulsive and caused relentless itchiness and torment.

Virginia’s case, took a distressing turn, because she had to make several visits to see the doctor. In a desperate attempt to mask her condition, she had initially kept it hidden from her mother, as it got worse, but the visible nature of scabies soon made it impossible to hide it any longer. Unfortunately, the insidious mites had by now dug deep into her flesh, necessitating intensive treatment. It is worth noting that scabies, caused by the minuscule Sarcoptes scabiei mite, is a highly contagious skin disorder affecting countless individuals worldwide. Its ruthless grip induces intolerable itching and distress.

What is Scabies? What causes it?

Scabies is an itchy skin rash triggered by a tiny burrowing mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. Extreme itching occurs in the area where the mite burrows. The female mite is known to dig into the skin, where it lays eggs and starts an allergic reaction that causes scabies. This disease can spread through close skin-to-skin contact, particularly in crowded settings, institutions, or homes.

Who does it attack?

This ailment can affect anyone, regardless of social class or status. However, certain factors increase the risk of infestation: these include, living in crowded areas, close contact with infected persons, a weakened immune system, as well as poor hygiene.

Symptoms of Scabies

The most common sign of scabies is extreme itching, which gets worse at night or after you take a hot shower.  Another symptom is skin lesions with burrow tracks. Depending on the intensity, you will often see them between fingers, around your wrists, elbows, armpits, waistline, and even genitals. They look like small lumps. As it develops, you will eventually see sores brought about by bacterial infections.

Treatment Options

See a doctor for effective treatment of scabies.  The most frequently administered medication is permethrin cream. You should apply it all over your body, and leave it for a long while before washing off. In some circumstances, additional topical treatments like sulfur ointment or crotamiton lotion may be advised. In addition, patients with severe or resistant conditions may be prescribed oral drugs like ivermectin. The mites are eradicated when you apply these medications all over your body. 

Even if a person does not exhibit any symptoms, it is necessary to treat anyone who has come into contact with an infected person. It has also been noted that one can use petroleum jelly or similar oily topical products to stifle the scaly leg mite infestations. It is advisable under these circumstances to use an old toothbrush to brush the jelly into cracks and crevices on the legs. You must cover the entire leg when at it.

Medical News Today says it is important to contact your doctor before trying home remedies, adding that, tea tree oil can help alleviate some of the itchiness linked with scabies, in addition to other treatments. It cautions however that the oil has not been found to be effective against the eggs that are buried deep within the skin. Some people recommend using zinc to help fight off secondary infections that may be caused by the open skin wounds that can result from a person scratching.

Though not a direct treatment for the infection, an individual should wash any clothing, bedding, or other fabric that has come in contact with them or their skin if they have scabies. This will remove mites hiding in the fabric prevent them from spreading to other areas of their body or other individuals. Though it may kill the mites, bleach is a harsh chemical and should always be diluted and treated with great care. It can only be used as a cleaning product and should not come into contact with the skin itself. Aloe Vera, Neem oil and Clove oil have also been known to provide some relief.

Prevention Strategies

Vacuuming is quite useful.  Ensure your environment is uncontaminated and do everything you can to avoid further infection. Start by staying away from anyone with scabies because it is highly transmissible. Encourage the infected to get treated as soon as you see any signs of this. Use hot water or high heat to wash clothing used by a scabies patient. These should include clothes, towels, bedding, socks and gloves.

Complications and Long-Term Effects

If left untreated, scabies can lead to complications like scratching, itchiness, and breaks in the skin. The result is bacterial infections, which can be quite uncomfortable. You’ll also find yourself itching long after a successful treatment. One of the best ways to deal with scabies is to keep updating your doctor on progress to ensure it is completely eradicated from your skin.

Points to ponder…

  • Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition that causes intense itching.
  • Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment are crucial for eradication.
  • Preventive measures play a vital role in halting the spread of scabies.
  •  Close contacts should also be treated to prevent re-infection.
  • Healthcare professionals play a significant role in managing scabies and educating individuals about its prevention and treatment.
  • Scabies is transmitted through prolonged, direct, skin-to-skin contact with infected individuals.
  • Diagnosing scabies involves a thorough medical history and physical examination eliminate the infestation and alleviate symptoms.
  • For eradication, prompt diagnosis and appropriate care, including topical or oral drugs, are essential.
  • Scabies can be prevented from spreading by using preventative measures, and close contacts should also receive treatment to avoid re-infestation. Healthcare personnel are crucial in controlling scabies.
  • Symptoms usually appear 4-8 weeks after contact with someone who has the ailment. In people who have had scabies before, the symptoms can develop within 1-4 days.

Health Tips

  • Beetroots are packed with nutrients and are a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance.
  • Beetroots contain compounds that support liver detoxification processes. It eliminates toxins from the body. It can aid liver function and support the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms.
  • Beetroots contain betalains, which are pigments with anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is linked to various health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Including beetroots in your diet may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of these diseases.
  • Beetroots are a good source of dietary fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and prevents constipation. Fiber adds bulk to the stool, aids in regular bowel movements, and supports a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Remember – It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making any significant dietary changes.

Angela Mutiso is the Editorial Consultant of the Accountant Journal.

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