Scabies in Babies

If you notice that your baby has many red dot rashes on their body surrounded by white and thin lines around it which is like thread, then you can be assured that your baby has scabies Do you know that these rashes are formed due to tiny mites burrowed under your baby’s skin. It’s quite scary. Isn’t it? Moreover, this doesn’t happen due to dirty surroundings or being unhygienic.

When infected with scabies, babies tend to have an intense itch in the affected area and might keep scratching. Scabies needs to be treated immediately. Being the Parent tells you in detail what scabies is, its symptoms, how to prevent it, and if affected how to treat it.

What Is Scabies and How Is It Caused? 

When babies are affected with scabies, it is called infantile scabies and it is caused by a parasitic mite called Sarcoptes Scabiei. This mite digs into the skin when in contact and creates a microscopic cut with its mouth and enters into the skin. Once entered, it digs its way in deeper, leaving its eggs along the way. These eggs, then hatch into its larvae and feed on the baby’s hair follicles and dead skin leaving rashes everywhere in the body. These mites aren’t naturally present in the body and hence the baby must have got it from some external source.

How Does a Baby Catch Scabies?

Babies get affected with scabies predominantly through external sources only such as;

  • Direct contact with a person who is already infected with scabies.
  • Direct contact with animals who are infected.
  • Sharing a bed or wearing another child’s clothes who is infected.
  • Infants spending most of their time in day-care.
  • While petting a domestic animal or pet at home who may have mites.

What Are the Symptoms of Scabies? 

 Once the mites have entered the skin, the symptoms that show the baby is affected with scabies will only begin to appear after two or four weeks only. The main symptoms are;

  • Bumps of small red rashes appear in clusters. Usually, these rashes appear on the folds of the baby’s skin such as inner thighs, elbows, knee, underarms, fingers, neck, palm, and genital area.
  • Intense itching in the affected areas, especially during the nights. This itching is caused because of the allergic reaction of the body to the mites and its eggs.
  • In babies, the itching due to scabies usually intensifies after a hot bath.
  • Pink or white colored lines appear on the skin near the affected areas.

How Is Scabies Diagnosed? 

 It is important that scabies is diagnosed at an early stage to avoid further complications for the baby. Scabies can be diagnosed with two steps;

  1. The doctor can detect the infection by visually examining the pattern and density of the rashes along with the existence of white or pink burrow lines.
  2. If rashes are found, they are gently scraped off the skin and examined under the microscope to check for the presence of mites and eggs.

What Are the Complications Of Scabies In Babies? 

 If not treated rightly, scabies in babies can lead to;

  • Bacterial infection causing pus and sores to occur.
  • Inflammation of the skin due to intense scratching.
  • Babies with less immunity are prone to Norwegian scabies where the mites multiply at a rapid rate which will be difficult to treat.

How Is Scabies Treated? 

Infantile scabies can be treated in the following ways;

  • For babies who are two months old or more, Permethrin ointment can be used on the whole body. This will kill all the mites and its eggs. Follow your pediatrician’s directions of use for this cream.
  • For babies who are below two months old, Sulphur ointment can be used and the process is same as Permethrin ointment.
  • To regulate the intense itch, an oral antihistamine can be given the baby. It does not treat scabies, but it will help your baby to have a peaceful daily routine without itching.

Before applying any medication, you have to take care of the following steps for best results.

  • Give your baby a lukewarm bath and pat dry. Remember that the scrubbing will aggravate the issue.
  • Make sure the ointment or crème covered all the creases of the baby’s body.
  • The crème/ointment should remain in the baby’s body for 8 to 12 hours
  • Likewise, bathe your baby well after 12 hours removing the crème completely from the skin.

How to Manage Infantile Scabies at Home? 

You can take these precautions at home to protect the baby from further infection and also protect other family members;

  • Baby’s clothes must be washed separately from others clothes, preferably in hot water with a mild baby detergent.
  • Dry the clothes in sunlight to kill any mites on the clothes.
  • Make sure to put on cotton, soft and loose clothing for the baby.
  • Baby’s nails should be trimmed to avoid scratching while itching.
  • Disinfect and dry the beddings of a baby in direct sunlight for three days.
  • Keeping your home clean and hygienic is the best way to avoid spreading the infection further.

How To Prevent Scabies In Infants?

 By following a few simple precautions, infantile scabies can be prevented completely;

  • Maintain a distance from scabies affected people because scabies can easily be transmitted through direct skin contact.
  • If you are a breastfeeding mother and have contracted scabies, it is better to express milk and ask a family member to feed and look after the baby until you recover.
  • Maintain overall general cleanliness and hygiene at home and for baby’s things.

When To Seek Medical Attention For Scabies In Babies?

Any unusual rashes appearing on the baby’s skin should be brought under the attention of your child’s doctor. However, never hesitate to consult your baby’s doctor if:

  • The itching shows no signs of disappearing for more than a week,
  • The  itching stops after a while and then comes back
  • The itching is followed by bleeding, scabs or pus-filled sores

Scabies can be extremely uncomfortable for babies as the inflammations and rashes can cause severe itching. Treating it at the right time will definitely cure the infection and relieve the baby from uneasiness quickly. However, it is best to prevent it in the first place with simple precautionary measures.