Oh god don't say scabies *scratchscratchscratch*
May 10, 2011 4:33 PM   Subscribe

The undead spirits of some scabies have haunted my arm for years. What to do?

A little over three years ago, I got scabies from a hotel room in Tempe that my bosses loved because they were cheap and pretty nice about where'd they drive you in the van. We've since switched to a nicer hotel for business trips, but that's not the issue here.

I was diagnosed with scabies about six weeks after the trip, after deciding that a doctor's visit was preferable to clawing my arm down to the bone. I was prescribed a scabicide, which I dutifully applied as instructed, and while relief was slow in coming, it did arrive.

Ever since then, though, the two spots on my arm where the scabies hit (as a result of me bending my arm under my pillow when I side-sleep) have a tendency to itch. It's not nearly as bad as it used to be, but at times I've scratched myself to bleeding in my sleep. I remember reading as I applied the scabicide that the arm may continue to itch even after the critters were dead because their soulless carcasses had to work their way out, but it's been three years plus now. Am I ever going to find relief from this?
posted by Golfhaus to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I read at one point that having had scabies can make you super-sensitive to house dust mites afterward. I am inclined to believe it, since I experience the same thing you do a few years after my one run-in with scabies, and it tends to be worse when it's dusty around here. It does seem to have gotten a bit better for me over time, but you might find some relief sooner from treating your place as if there were dust mites.

Aside from that, if you can find a way to manage not to scratch those spots (covering them up while you sleep?), that should also help break the cycle.
posted by treblemaker at 5:01 PM on May 10, 2011

I read this article once about a woman who developed a relentless itch (after shingles, I think). The article goes into a lot of detail about various things she and her doctors tried. Might be worth a read. The solution, in the end, was something involving mirrors, strangely enough.
posted by lollusc at 5:15 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you tried to see if antihistamines will get you through the night unscathed?
posted by matlock expressway at 5:33 PM on May 10, 2011

In the short run, as matlock expressway says, you might try either taking an antihistamine (Benadryl, etc. - Zyrtec is my favorite) or applying an over the counter steroid cream, or maybe both.

However, I would urge you to go to a dermatologist, particularly if you have any kind of rash at all that includes crusty or weepy areas of skin, as you could have developed a secondary fungal infection, bacterial infection, yeast infection, etc..
posted by gudrun at 5:57 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Try using a buf-puff or other scrubby on the arm, to stimulate the skin to maybe eject the dead bits sooner. Benadryl is an effective antihistamine, and also makes you drowsy, so it's kind of nice for bedtime. I had scabies once, probably brought into the house by a teenager; ohhhh, the itching was awful. That may explain why I'm so hypersensitive to some bugs, even ones I don't see. interesting.
posted by theora55 at 6:04 PM on May 10, 2011

Scabies itch because you become allergic to them. It makes perfect sense to me that they still itch now and I'd also suggest antihistamines. (IANAD)
posted by plonkee at 12:47 AM on May 11, 2011

Response by poster: I've been taking Benadryl for its putting-to-sleep properties more or less nightly for longer than I've had the itchiness.

Some other things I've thought of that I should have mentioned earlier - it's not constant. I can go a night or two without any itchiness, but then a particularly humid day might cause me to get a little scratchy. If I haven't had reason to scratch for a couple of days, there are no visible signs that these areas on my arm are any different than anywhere else. The only scabbing I have is if I have a particularly vicious scratch session (usually in my sleep) that has broken the skin. This happens, at most, monthly.
posted by Golfhaus at 4:21 PM on May 11, 2011

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