Yes, even toddlers can be infested with scabies. Your child could have scabies. Scabies is caused by tiny parasitic mites burrowing and laying eggs under the skin. It can be observed as bumpy rashes on your child's skin. The skin rash is actually an allergic reaction to the eggs and burrows that the mites make on host’s body.
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It's very easy for children to pick up scabies. It spreads through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it. Any child or adult can get it, even if they're careful about cleanliness. It often shows up in more than one family member, or in groups of children in the nursery.
Symptoms of scabies
If your child has scabies, you can see him/her develop an extremely itchy rash. It will be visible as scattered red bumps, which may appear between fingers, around wrists, on the outside of elbows, on armpits, on the belly, or on genitals. The rash can sometimes appear on the scalp and face, the kneecaps, the palms of the hands, and the sides and soles of the feet.
If it’s the first time your child has infested scabies, it may be as long as six weeks from when the mites latch onto the skin. If the child has already had scabies before, the reaction time will be shorter, possibly within a couple of days.
Consult your doctor
You need to take your child immediately to the doctor if you're worried that your child has scabies. The sooner your child get the treatment, the sooner he/she will get rid of scabies. The doctor will take a look at the rash and observe it under a microscope. The mites, eggs, and faeces of scabies are visible under a magnifying glass.
How to treat a child’s scabies?
The doctor will prescribe an anti-itch cream that you have to apply on your child's body. Even parts of his body that don't seem to be infected must be treated, so don't skip them. Don't forget to put the cream between your child's toes and fingers, under his arms, in the navel, and on genitals. Follow the directions for leaving the cream on his skin, which will probably be for between eight hours and 12 hours, and then wash it off. Put the cream on at bedtime, and wash it off first thing in the morning. If your child sucks on hands or fingers while he sleeps, cover his hands overnight with mittens or socks to prevent the child from swallowing the cream.
How to protect the rest of the family from scabies?
Everyone in your house, as well as your child’s carers also need to be treated even if they show no symptoms. All should be treated at the same time, so one contaminated person doesn’t re-infect anyone else in the family.
You need to remove the mites from around the house as soon as you start treating your child with the cream:
- Vacuum the floors, and dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner.
- Wash your child's clothes, towels, and bedding on a hot wash. Dry them in a tumble dryer, if you have one.
- Seal any stuffed animals or toys that can't be washed in a plastic bag for at least a week. Scabies mites can't survive for more than a few days without a human host.
- Preventing your child from scabies, especially if your child is around other children is not easy. If your child has been in close contact with another child who has scabies, give him the treatment straight away, even if he doesn't have the rash.