Common skin infections in children: Scabies and head lice
In the third part of our series about common skin infections in children, Michael J Sladden and Graham A Johnston review scabies and head lice
Childhood skin infections are commonly seen in both primary care and dermatology practice worldwide. They consume considerable resources and need careful management. However, education and reassurance of patients and parents, combined with simple treatment and self management, play a vital role in successful treatment.
Scabies is an intensely itchy dermatosis caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The infestation can occur at all ages but particularly occurs in children. It is a common public health problem in poor communities and developing countries.
Scabies is highly contagious and is spread from person to person by direct skin contact. Transfer from clothes and bedding occurs rarely and only if contaminated by infectious people immediately beforehand. Infestation occurs when pregnant female mites burrow into the skin and lay eggs. After two or three days the larvae emerge and dig new burrows. They mature, mate, and repeat this cycle every two weeks.
The main symptoms