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HSE Schemes explained


This is caused by a little mite, which burrows underneath the skin. It is spread by direct contact. The symptoms of scabies include itching accompanied by a rash, which is usually quite severe and is worst at night often leading to lack of sleep. Scratching of the skin may change its appearance. The mite lives under the skin and its coat and waste products set up an allergic reaction hence the itch.

From the skin surface the burrows look like small grey threads that are raised wavy and 5-10 mm long. The most common places to see these are in the web of the fingers and toes and on the inside of the wrist. (The patient may also have noted then in the armpits, buttock, nipples or genital area.). The mite rarely affects the face and scalp except in infants. Successful eradication of scabies is dependent on adequate skin coverage and treatment of other people with whom you have been in contact.

The itch may take several weeks to develop, and as the mite is transmitted in close personal contact, you should ask other family members, boyfriends or girlfriends. It may only be noticed as the skin becomes infected due to scratching.

The itch may only be relatively recent, as it may take a few weeks to develop after contacting the mite. The treatment for scabies may not be effective if the directions are not followed exactly. It is important to know that he itch of scabies can continue for a time after such treatment has worked (for days or even weeks), a suitable antihistamine may be taken to reduce the skin reaction.

If you are taking any medication, or if you are suffering from any disease or if you are pregnant you should ask to speak to the pharmacist.

All members of the household must be treated together, (also boyfriends and girlfriends), even if they are not itching - the itch may take up to 8 weeks to develop. After using an appropriate treatment the body should then be completely washed with a good, non-irritating soap-free wash. Fresh undergarments and bedclothes are advisable.

Practical Points:
Any mites in bed linen or clothes are removed in the ordinary process of washing and ironing, and do not need to be disinfected.
- The itch may continue for a time after treatment has succeeded - this is normal and a good non-drowsy antihistamine can be taken to prevent this itch.

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