With scabies on the rise in college campuses around the country, the Student Health Center advises students to be alert and responsible in treatment and prevention.
Scabies is a skin infection caused by small mites that live on the body, similar to lice. Scabies are common in nursing homes, childcare centers and college dorms.
Becky Boehler, director of the health center, said, “There have been students with scabies on campus. There has also been an increase on other campuses as well.”
The symptoms of scabies are small, itchy red bumps, according to the health center. These bumps are most commonly found on the elbows, wrists and the backs of knees. A person might also see “pencil-like” red lines on their skin.
The mites that cause scabies burrow into the skin and lay their eggs. This forms a burrow that looks like a pencil mark. Eggs hatch in approximately 21 days. The itchy rash is an allergic response to the mite. A person who is having a reinfestation may see symptoms much sooner than the typical four – six weeks.
Contracting scabies is caused by close contact with persons who have scabies. It can be transferred from the body, from furniture or from bedding.
Scabies can be treated only by prescription medication. If scabies are contracted, it is important that all members of the household and sexual partners receive treatment at the same time. They should get treatment even if they do not show symptoms in order to avoid re-infestation.
If there is a person who has contracted scabies, it is important to avoid contact until treatment is complete. The infected person scratching at the accompanying rash can also spread scabies.
As scabies are similar to lice, it is also important to treat the environment that you live in as well as yourself. Upholstered furniture needs to be deeply cleaned and vacuumed. Anything that is un-washable, such as stuffed animals or dry clean-only fabrics, needs to be bagged and isolated for three days. Scabies cannot live off of the human body for longer than three days.
The scabies mite that infects humans is not the same as animals; therefore, human to animal transfer is not likely.
For common areas around campus, Aaron Lippincott, a student employee for the Student Custodial and Event staff, stated that “the common areas are cleaned constantly while open for occupation.”
If students feel that they may have symptoms or signs of scabies, they need to notify the advisor to their dorm rooms so that appropriate cleaning of common areas can take place. Students can receive treatment from the health center or from a private practitioner.