Caused by a microscopic parasite called Sarcoptes scabei, scabies is a skin infestation that can last for months if they remain untreated. Scabies or bed bugs can infect anyone, even the cleanest and neatest person, and doesn’t differentiate between race, nationality, or wealth.
Up until today, WHO records about 130 million cases regarding scabies. Being highly-contagious, scabies will flourish rapidly in places avid of skin-to-skin contact such as a nursing house, hospital, as well as children establishment. Therefore, knowing how to diagnose and treat scabies is vital to stop its spreading.
Scabies is usually transmitted from skin-to-skin contact or sexual encounter. However, physical contact is not always a trigger. Mattresses and beddings are the two most prime places where scabies hide.
If you’re not sure of replacing one and wondering how long can scabies live in a mattress, learn below to know more about scabies and how to prevent it from troubling your sleep.
Types of Scabies or Bed Bugs
While Sarcoptes scabei is the only cause of scabies, the mites can infest more than one kind of scabies. Listed below are the types of scabies.
The most often found scabies can cause rash, redness, and itchy feeling on the wrist, fingers, and hands. However, the rash doesn’t get to the face or scalp.
1. Nodular Scabies
Coming off differently than common scabies, Nodular Scabies usually shows in the form of bumps in armpits, breasts, or genital areas.
Nodular Scabies infects deeper in the skin tissue than common scabies.
2. Norwegian Scabies
The most severe and contagious kind of scabies, Norwegian Scabies or crusted scabies is a result of scabies that goes untreated thus develop severely.
Usually, people who suffer from Norwegian Scabies forms a thin, grayish, and crusted layer of skin that houses thousands of mites’ eggs.
Norwegian Scabies also occurs in people whose immune system are weakened. For example, people with HIV or AIDS, people who undergo chemotherapy, or those who consume certain medications. As a result of a weakened immune system, the scabies mites grow more rapidly than usual.
How does Scabies Occur?
In scabies, female Sarcoptes scabei infests by burrowing on your skin and creating a tunnel to lay eggs.
While the male mites die after breeding, the female will wait for three until ten days for the eggs to hatch and continue roaming on your skin to find a new place to breed or move to the nearest person who happens to be in contact.
While scabies looks scary, it can be eliminated by effective treatment. Treatment for scabies ranges from natural aids to prescribed medicines.
However, since scabies is highly contagious, usually doctors will ask the entire group of people to take the same medication as a precaution.
How to Spot Scabies?
If scabies has infested on your skin, the symptoms will take around four until six weeks to come out. While scabies develops more quickly in people who have had it before, first-timers may not realize that they’re contagious before diagnosed.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see the symptoms of scabies until it fully manifests. However, you will be able to feel their presence during the manifestation in the form of intense itching at night, rashes, burrows, and pimples.
The burrows left by the mites usually manifests in the form of discolored lines and bumps along your skin.
Where does Scabies Occur?
Scabies is usually found in hand, the skin between fingers, and other places where the skin is thin.
Additionally, you can also find scabies in breasts, armpits, genitals, waist, and buttocks. People who are infested by scabies may also experience soreness and fatigue caused by sore itching and scratching.
An adult female mite can live in a human’s body for up to one month. However, once they’re out, their lifetime only lasts around 48 until 72 hours.
First and foremost, scabies must be diagnosed by a dermatologist. Since the mites are microscopic, the doctor will take a further look at the burrows and rashes to confirm whether you’ve been infected or not. If it is confirmed as scabies, the doctor will find eggs and mites in the crusted skin.
Scabies treatment comprises of two methods: natural ointments and prescribed medication, whether it’s in the form of lotion, cream, or oral medicine. Listed below are the typical medicine used to cure scabies:
- 25% Benzyl Benzoate Lotion
- 10% Sulfur Ointment
- 10% Crotamilton Cream
- 1% Lindane Lotion
- 5% Permethrin Cream
- Ivermectin for oral medication; strictly used for severe scabies
- Benadryl, steroid creams, and other antibiotics to relieve swelling and itching
The external medicine such as creams is usually applied at night when the mites are active and washed in the morning. You might have to use it continuously for up to seven days and go back to your doctor for control.
If the doctor doesn’t see any improvement or the scabies is more severe than expected, he/she will prescribe your oral medication for a thorough treatment.
Additionally, if you’re one for natural, non-chemical medications, consider opting for these home remedies to treat scabies:
1. Tea-tree Oil
Work well for surface mites, tea tree oil helps to ease itching and rashness due to scabies. Unfortunately, you may not find this method effective for mites that have dug deep into your skin.
2. Capsaicin Lotion
Containing cayenne pepper to desensitize your skin and ease itchiness, capsaicin lotion helps you endure the pain while under other medications. However, capsaicin lotion is not strong enough to kill mites.
3. Aloe Vera
Soothing rash and itchy feelings from scabies, aloe vera is a potent home remedy to treat this skin infestation. However, make sure to buy pure aloe vera and not a cosmetic-based one.
4. Essential Oils
Who would’ve thought that essential oil could be a great home remedy for scabies? Proven to be able to kill mites in rabbits, clove oil is an alternative if you want to try natural medications. Other oils can be used are lemongrass and tea tree oils.
These alternative remedies could be useful in easing pain and treating scabies. However, you need to be aware of cleaning your surroundings to avoid the second outbreak. As previously mentioned, mattresses and beddings are prone to mites.
So, How Long Can Scabies Live in a Mattress?
Scabies can live in a mattress or bedding up to three to four days, they can live outside the human body. If you don’t clean your mattress fast enough, there’s a possibility that you will get infected again.
Learn below to avoid a second outbreak of scabies living in your mattress.
Treating Your Home and Mattress to Prevent Scabies
The first and foremost solution to prevent another scabies infestation is to clean everything in your environment.
Collect all the clothes and towels you wear daily and wash them using laundry soap in hot water at a minimum temperature of 122°F (50°C).
Afterward, dry them in a high-temperature dryer for at least thirty minutes. For a maximum result, patients are advised to do this during their treatment and the following weeks after they’re healed.
Furthermore, strip off your beddings and pillows and wash them in the same manner as clothes and towels. For anything that can’t be washed, opt for a hot dryer.
If your bedding and pillows can’t be washed or dried, throw them in a plastic bag for at least two weeks and put it in an isolated place.
Afterward, vacuum your floor, curtain, couch, and other furniture once a day during the infestation to terminate the remaining mites and eggs.
Once the outbreak is over, throw out the vacuum bag and clean your vacuum extensively with hot water and bleach. You can also use bleach and hot water as a mop to clean other surfaces that may get infected.
Pulling the Last Straw to Prevent Scabies
While cleaning your bedroom is a possible option, you might want to prevent another outbreak by simply throwing everything out. Bed bugs are tricky to banish, and you wouldn’t want them to get near your body once more.
If you think your mattress or bedding, pillow, and bedding are unsalvageable, you can dispose of everything and buy a new one. However, make sure that you’ve covered the mattress, pillow, and bedding with a plastic bag to prevent other people from getting infected.
All in all, while chucking of your mattress, bedding, and pillow will cost you more than cleaning them, the chance of you getting another outbreak will be less likely than using the old ones.
A tricky infestation to get rid of, scabies will cost you a lot of time and effort to treat it. Hopefully, in knowing the symptoms, occurring spots, and treatments, you’ll be able to spot scabies faster and acquire the right medication.