Lice, Scabies, and Your Skin
How Can Lice Be Prevented?
The best way to prevent lice is to avoid sharing combs, brushes, towels, scarves, hats, clothes, and other objects. Avoid close physical contact with someone who has lice. Examine and treat all members of your household who have had contact with someone who has lice.
If you find that your child has lice, notify your child's school, day care center, or babysitter. It is important to wash all combs, brushes, hats, and towels after each shampoo if anyone in your family has lice. You must also wash clothes, bed linens, and towels in the hot cycles of your washer and dryer. (Heat kills the insects.) It is not necessary to spray clothes or household objects with an insecticide.
Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by a microscopic mite called Sarcoptes scabei. The mite burrows into the skin. Within several weeks of the time the mite burrows, an allergic reaction occurs and severe itching begins.
The condition can affect people of any social class and everyone is susceptible. However, scabies occurs more often in situations involving crowded living conditions with poor hygiene.
How Does a Person Get Scabies?
In most cases, scabies develops after close, prolonged contact with another person. Scabies can easily be spread between sexual partners and household members. Scabies-causing mites can be scratched off the skin and can cause an infestation in another person. Infestation may also occur by sharing clothing, towels, and bedding -- mites can live in bedding for up to 24 hours or more.
What Are the Symptoms of Scabies?
The primary symptom of scabies is severe itching, which often is so bad that it keeps people awake at night. The itching is caused as the female mite burrows into the skin, lays eggs, and produces toxins that cause allergic reactions. Small red bumps (resembling tiny bites or pimples) can form on the skin.
The most common areas for scabies to develop on the body are warmer sites such as skin folds, areas where clothing is tight (such as the belt line or buttocks), on the penis, and around the nipples.
Excessive scratching may lead to bacterial infections of the skin in people who have scabies.