An untreated scabies infestation can continue to cause intense itching and skin damage for years, and it has been called the seven-year itch, reports Penn Medicine. The condition is also highly contagious, and infected people who do not seek treatment can spread the infestation to people and environments with which they come into contact.
Scabies, also known as Sarcoptes scabiei, is a skin disease caused by a very small type of mite, explains Penn Medicine. The mites burrow into the skin to lay their eggs, which hatch in approximately 21 days, and the itchy rash is caused by an allergic response. Effective treatment requires ridding the home of infestation as well as treating any affected persons. This means vacuuming carpets and upholstery, washing clothes and linens in hot water, and isolating any objects that cannot be washed for at least 72 hours.
Topical and oral treatments for scabies are available, according to PubMed Central. Permethrin 5 percent dermal cream is the preferred treatment for pregnant women and children who weigh under 15 kilograms, because very little of the drug is absorbed through the skin. Oral ivermectin, administered in two doses, is also an effective scabicide, but its use is limited to otherwise healthy adults.