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Scabies

Intro

If you have severe itching, a rash, or lesions that suggest scabies, you should see your doctor. Self-treatment is not recommended. Although there are many remedies on the Internet, none are as effective as prescription medications.

Scabies is not an emergency and does not require a phone call at 2 am to your doctor. When calling to schedule an appointment, be sure to tell your doctor's staff that you are concerned that you or your child may have scabies.

Scabies rarely requires an emergency department visit. If you are on vacation or visiting another town, you may need to seek treatment in the local hospital's emergency department. You may also go to the emergency department if the itching is severe. This is occasionally the case in children who may scratch themselves so much that they cause bleeding.

Self-Care at Home

Although you cannot cure a case of scabies without prescription medication from a doctor, there are certain things you can do at home to prevent reinfecting yourself or your family.

  • Wash all clothing, towels, and bed linens in hot water. Do not allow air drying. You should use the dryer.
  • Use the medication as prescribed and instructed. Do not use it more than instructed because you risk causing chemical irritation of your skin.
  • You can also treat itching with antihistamine medications such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
  • Cut your nails and clean under them thoroughly to remove any mites or eggs that may be present.
  • Vacuum your rugs, furniture, and bedding and throw the vacuum cleaner bag away when finished.

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Follow-up

Even after treatment, the itching can last for up to 4 weeks and does not necessarily indicate ineffective treatment. Repeat examination by a doctor in 1-2 weeks is recommended.

Prevention

It is difficult to prevent scabies. Avoidance is the key. It is difficult to prevent or avoid scabies once someone close to you has scabies. Once a close contact or family member has been diagnosed with scabies, you should be treated.

If you work in the health care field, then good personal protection with gloves and gown should be used when you see patients who have a suspicious rash and itching.

Outlook

Once properly diagnosed, treatment is generally very effective. If the rash comes back, then it is possible that you have been reinfected.

The itching can last for up to 4 weeks after treatment and can be treated with antihistamines.

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