What is genital scabies?

Genital scabies is a skin condition caused by mites that burrow under the skin. It is characterized by intense itching and a scabies rash. The condition can be contracted through sexual and non-sexual contact.

Scabies can occur almost anywhere on the body, but when it occurs in the private area, it is called genital scabies. Sarcoptes scabiei, the insect-like scabies mite, burrows under the skin and lays eggs. The dig causes an allergic reaction, resulting in bumps, blisters, and intense itching on the genitals. Symptoms of the condition may not appear for up to six weeks.

Another characteristic of scabies is its highly contagious nature. Genital scabies in particular can be spread through nonsexual skin-to-skin contact and sometimes by sharing clothing or other items with someone who has the condition. When genital scabies is contracted through sexual contact, it is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI). Young adults often get genital scabies through sexual transmission.

Treating genital scabies is often the same as treating the condition in other parts of the body. Doctors prescribe a special chemical cream that kills the mite after a few applications, although itching can continue for several weeks. Often the cream needs to be applied all over the body from the neck down in case the scabies mites have affected more than one area of ​​the body. Instead, some patients take oral medications, especially those who have a compromised immune system or whose scabies have crusted over and are therefore more contagious and difficult to treat.

As with other types, doctors recommend that patients with genital scabies remove the scabies mites or ova at the patient's home. Patients are usually instructed to dry clean or wash and dry all clothing and bedding with detergent and heat. Doctors may also suggest that the patient's sexual partners also be treated, even if the partners show no signs of the condition. Condoms and other barrier methods do not always prevent the transmission of scabies, since mites and eggs can exist in areas not covered by these devices. Limiting sexual partners decreases the chance of getting scabies as an STD or STI.

Many skin conditions and STDs have symptoms similar to those associated with genital scabies. Doctors recommend that patients with symptoms seek professional care to ensure proper treatment and decrease complications caused by scabies or any other condition. Genital scabies cannot be eliminated with home or over-the-counter treatments.

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