The flu season is off to an early and strong start. Flu activity has been reported as widespread in at least 46 states, including Indiana. Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health is currently restricting visitors to protect patients and prevent further spreading. Learn more.
Scabies is an itchy skin rash that is caused by a mite that burrows under the skin and lays eggs. This insect is so tiny; it cannot be seen with the naked eye. Scabies commonly affects internationally adopted children. It can be highly contagious. Therefore, all family members should be watchful for signs of rash or unexplained itching.
In children, the rash commonly appears:
In infants, the rash can also appear:
It is important to note that scabies can appear as late as two months after exposure.
Your child’s doctor will conduct a skin scraping exam if he or she suspects your child has scabies. A laboratory technician will then analyze the sample under a microscope to see if mites, eggs or mite feces (scybala) are present, which confirms the condition.
Doctors at Riley at IU Health typically treat scabies with a cream that contains a chemical insecticide called permethrin.
The cream should be applied to all parts of the body except the face. Do not let your child place his or her fingers in his or her mouth when you are applying the cream. The cream should be left on the skin for eight to 14 hours before washing it off with water. You will repeat the treatment one week later to ensure the infestation does not reoccur from persistent eggs hatching.
Petroleum ointment can be used to treat infestation of the eyelashes. You may apply the ointment three to four times per day for eight to 10 days.
An antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may also be prescribed to help with itching.
Bedding and clothing used four days before treatment should be washed in hot water. Clothing that cannot be laundered in hot water should be removed and stored for several days in order to prevent re-infestation. Thorough vacuuming of carpet and furniture may be helpful in preventing recurrence of infection.
Your child may return to school or day care once treatment has been completed, even if the rash is still present.
The rash and itching will continue for several weeks or months. Although the skin has been treated, remnants of the dead mite remain under the skin for some time. Your child may continue to need an antihistamine for comfort.
You can apply a 1% hydrocortisone cream to the rash and/or dry patches of skin but only after treatment has been completed.
Visit the trusted websites below to learn more about scabies.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.