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Home > Health & Disease in Naturopathy > Skin Disorders > Scabies
Scabies
ScabiesPopularly known as itch, scabies is a skin infection. It is caused by the mite sarcoptes scabiei or itch-mite. It is a contagious disease and is more common among people who live in crowded places under unhygienic conditions. Children under the age of 15 years are the most affected by this disease.

Symptoms of Scabies are:
The disease is characterized by severe itching. It tends to be more marked at night or after a hot bath. This is due to increased activity of the parasite because of the greater warmth of the body. The common sites for scabies are the genital areas, the space between the fingers, the front surface of the wrists, around the elbows, under the arm-pits, around the nipples, along the belt-line, and on the lower part of the buttocks. In infants, burrows are often present on the palms on the trunk. The burrow made by the itch-mite appears as a fine, wavy, dark line, if it can be seen at all. Often there is swelling, as well as scratch marks and local eczema over the irritated areas and this may cover up the tiny tunnels, so that they will not be seen. Infected individuals with good personal hygiene, usually have few lesions and burrows there by making it difficult to identify.

Causesof Scabies: The female itch-mite, measuring 0.4mm, burrows under the outer layer of the skin and deposits her eggs along the tunnel Within a few days, the larvae hatch and tend to congregate around the hair follicles of the skin. The disease is transmitted from person to person by close bodily contact, particularly among family members. Those who spend nights with friends or exchange clothing with others are at increased risk. Prolonged holding of hand is also a frequent means for spreading the disease.

Treatment of Scabies:
As the disease is contagious, the suffering patient and all the affected members of the family should be treated simultaneously. The oldest and the most effective of treatments is the application of a paste, prepared by mixing two teaspoons of sublimed sulphur with eight tablespoons of coconut oil. The whole body should be soaked for 20 minutes in a warm-bath using plenty of soap. Particular attention should be paid to the itching areas scrubbing them thoroughly. After the bath, a paste should be rubbed well over the entire skin surface, below the chin line, but particularly over the affected areas. This should be done for three successive nights, wearing the same under-clothing during this period. About 10 to 12 hours after the last application, a hot-soap bath should be taken and a clean under-clothing and outside clothing should be worn. All clothes next to the skin, bed sheets and pillow cases should be boiled in hot water and occasionally sun-dried.

Another effective treatment is that of Benzyl-Benzoate. After a warm soap bath, as mentioned above, a mixture of equal parts of soap, ethyl alcohol and benzyl benzoate should be brushed for five minutes, while still wet. It should be allowed to dry and again painted for five minutes. After it is dry, the same old clothes should be worn. A bath should be taken after 24 hours and clean clothing should be worn.

Benzyl-Benzoate, being an irritant, should be diluted to half the strength, if it is used for treating babies. Any of the other regimes can be used in the treatment of young children. Recently, gamuna benzene lotion is being used in place of benzyl-benzoate, as it is effective and less irritating to skin. Its burrows are present on the head and neck areas in babies, they can be treated with topical Eurax cream.

During the treatment period, the patient should be given light foods, preferably fresh juicy fruits such as orange, apple, pineapple, pear, peaches and melon. Warm water enema should he used daily during this period to ensure regular bowel movements.

Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of scabies. The use of apricot leaves is one such valuable remedy. Fresh juice of these leaves should be extracted and applied with beneficial results in scabies. Application of the juice of mint leaves over the affected areas has also proved valuable in treating this disease.

The use of bitter gourd has proved beneficial in the treatment of this disease. Half a cup of juice of this vegetable, should be taken mixed with one teaspoon of lime juice. This juice should be sipped slowly on an empty stomach once daily for a week or so.

The flour of unroasted Bengal gram is a very effective cleansing agent. Washing the skin with this flour will be beneficial in treating scabies.
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