If you’ve had scabies before you’ll know it’s a horrible thing to deal with. However, getting rid of scabies in adults is usually nothing more than a miserable one or two weeks, and can be dealt with rather easily with standard treatments.
However, it is a little more difficult in children.
Scabies is actually quite common in children, especially those in daycare or kindergarten, because they’re often in contact with other kids and playing involves a lot of physical interaction. Because scabies is spread by skin-to-skin contact, this makes children a lot more susceptible to adults.
The main symptoms are the scattered red spots or bumps and they will be very itchy, so your child will be scratching a lot. The usual spots that you will find large clusters of bumps are around the elbows and knees, between the fingers and toes, and around the upper thighs and groin. You might also see small lines between the bumps, which are the burrow lines.
If it’s your child’s first time with scabies, the symptoms can take 4-6 weeks to appear from when they first contracted the mites.
The first and most important thing to do is get diagnosed. If your child shows these symptoms get them to the doctor as soon as possible. Scabies treatments can be quite harsh on the skin, so there’s nothing worse than treating for scabies unnecessarily! A proper diagnosis is key.
To diagnose your child, the doctor can do a variety of things. The first is obviously a visual exam on the skin. Normally the doctor will use microscopic glasses to examine the skin. It is very easy to see the mites with these, so diagnosis is usually very accurate.
Another way they might be diagnosed is through a skin scrape. The doctor will scrape the affected area gently and then examine the scrape under a microscope. This usually shows the presence of eggs or even live mites.
Usually the doctor will give you a permethrin cream, which is an mild insecticide. The correct treatment is to apply this all over the skin. Be sure to get it everywhere, even around the genitals and between the fingers and toes. Scabies can live anywhere so it’s important the entire skin is covered.
This treatment should be left on for 8 hours, then washed off thoroughly. The treatment needs to be repeated after 7 days.
The key difference with adult scabies treatment is that scabies can often affect the face and scalp of children too. Therefore, the face and scalp should be covered too.
Another good tip is to cut and file your child’s fingernails to minimize the damage they do from scratching.
Lastly, everyone that has been in skin-to-skin contact with your child in the previous 4-6 weeks should be treated also. Let any daycare or nursery your child has been spending time at know. Also treat everyone in your household too. Scabies is very contagious and spreads easily, and symptoms take some time to show. Always better safe than sorry!