Have you been noticing an itchy scratch on your penis? The chances are that it could be scabies. It is an infestation of small parasitic mites that can affect various parts of your body. These mites usually prefer warm places like skin folds or genital areas like the penis.
A less common variant of scabies is nodular scabies. Often involving the genitalia, it is characterized by pruritic (urge to scratch), firm, and persistent nodules. Usually, this variant represents the hypersensitivity reaction to reserved mite parts.
Read on to know about the symptoms of scabies and how to prevent them!
What Is Scabies?
Scabies is an infection caused by the infestation of small parasitic mites or insects that can affect any part of an infected person’s skin. Scabies can also occur on the skin of a penis and cause raised pimples like bumps on the penis skin and the scrotum.
Scabies is caused by mites that are microscopic in nature and burrow into a person's top layer of the skin. Once they do that, they lay their eggs and cause symptoms such as intense itching.
A penis is a warm place; hence, it makes a good body part for mites to infest. The scabies mites tend to lay eggs in warm places such as skin folds and genital areas. Scabies in the penis presents itself as a crusted blister-like rash. These mites are barely visible to the naked eye and can infect the thighs, buttocks, under-breast areas, waist, the skin between fingers and toes, and the penis and scrotum.
Generally, after getting infected for about 4 to 6 weeks, a person develops immunity toward the mites. Scratching the rash caused by scabies can result in infections such as impetigo.
How Can You Catch Scabies?
Scabies is a medical condition that is contagious. It spreads through skin-to-skin contact. However, it is important to understand that mites can not jump or fly from one place to another. Hence, for the mites to transmit, the persons will have to be in prolonged contact with one another. It is highly unlikely to contract scabies by hugging, casually brushing or shaking hands with an infected person.
Generally, the mites that cause scabies pass between adults during sex. Condoms are contraceptives that prevent sexually transmitted diseases but do not prevent the transmission of scabies mites. One can also become infected with scabies by using shared bedding, clothing or towels with an already infected person. Hence, scabies is more common in typically crowded areas, such as daycare centres, nursing homes, and prisons.
Scabies symptoms may vary depending on the genital area. Here are some of the common symptoms of scabies.
Scabies on Scrotum
Raised pimple-like bumps and intense itchiness are some of the main scabies scrotum symptoms. They occur when mites reproduce on the surface of your skin and lay eggs.
Also read: What is Balanitis?
Scabies on Testis
Symptoms for scabies on the testes or testicles include crusty, blister-like sores and raised red lines.
Scabies on Penis
Scabies on the penis can arrive like raised bumps or blister-like sores. One of the most common symptoms, however, is intense itchiness that usually worsens at night.
In individuals experiencing scabies for the first time, these symptoms may start showing after 4-6 weeks. Excessive scratching can also lead to secondary skin infections.
In most cases, a qualified doctor can diagnose scabies with a physical exam. An individual with itchy skin and marks or blister-like sores probably has scabies. But, while most people experience itchiness, not every person will have scabies. Doctors confirm scabies by taking a sample and analysing the skin scraping.
They check for the presence of mites or their eggs under a microscope. That said, some other conditions may be confused with scabies. These include lice, flea bites, syphilis, and eczema.
Scabies on Penis Treatment
If you’re worried about scabies, don’t be. It’s a treatable condition. You can avoid it by not coming in contact with individuals who have scabies. It’s also essential to avoid being near their belongings. That said, it is vital to take prompt treatment for scabies on the penis. More so if you have a weak immune system.
So if you have scabies on your penis, doctors might recommend taking showers with hot water. Scabicides are another thing that they might recommend. These are scabies mite killing medications that come as creams and pills.
Permite lotion is another popular treatment. As an antiparasitic medication, it works by killing the mites and their eggs. You must read the instructions and follow the doctor’s prescription for optimal effect.
Here are some of the medications that your doctor might recommend:
- Steroid Cream to help relieve swelling and itchiness
- Antibiotics to heal and prevent the infection
- Antihistamine medication like Benadryl to control itching
For all those individuals who have scabies on the penis, here are a few tips that you can follow to avoid the infestation from spreading:
1. Remember to wash your bedding and towels in hot water
2. Dry all the washed clothes at high heat
3. Carpets and mattresses are some items that you can’t wash. So clean them with a vacuum
4. Avoid sex until the mites have disappeared
Additionally, if the symptoms persist for more than 3-4 weeks after starting treatment, you must visit the doctor.
Also read: Penile infections
While you can’t prevent scabies from spreading to your genitals if you already have scabies, here are some of the things you can do for general prevention.
- Do not share linens and avoid close contact with people who have scabies. You must wait till they complete their treatment.
- Practise personal and intimate hygiene regularly
- Limit your time in overcrowded areas and spaces
- Intervene at the first sign of potential concern
- Avoid sharing clothes or towels with other individuals.
Summing Up on Scabies on Penis
Scabies is an infection that is contagious in nature and caused by an infestation of tiny parasitic mites or insects. The infection spreads from prolonged skin-to-skin contact and is usually caused in adults during sex.
Scabies on the penis results in intense itching and raised, red pimple-like areas of rashes. Mites burrow into these areas and lay eggs, which causes these symptoms. The mites that cause scabies prefer warm areas such as the groin and scrotum in males.
Scabies on penis is not a serious condition, but scratching the rash can lead to a secondary infection such as impetigo. Older adults or people with weaker immune systems are at higher risk of developing severe forms of scabies, also known as crusted scabies.
Infected people should immediately see a doctor to reduce the infection's risk. Healthcare professionals can prescribe scabicide medications for the infected person to kill the infection-causing organism and treat a scabby penis effectively.
Is Scabies an STD?
Yes, Scabies can be called a sexually transmitted infection as it is transmitted through prolonged skin-to-skin contact. Sexual intercourse is one of the mediums through which scabies can transmit between adults.
What Kills Scabies Instantly?
Scabies can be eliminated by using certain creams and medications prescribed by the doctor. Generally, medicated creams such as Permethrin cream contain chemicals that can kill mites and their eggs. Oral medications such as Ivermectin are prescribed for people who have altered immune systems or for people who don’t respond to prescription lotions or creams.
What Can Be Mistaken for Scabies?
Medical conditions such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis and papular urticaria are some other conditions that have a similar presentation to scabies.
What Happens if Scabies Is Left Untreated?
Scabies is usually not dangerous. However, it is highly contagious and should be treated as soon as possible as it can infect everyone in a community setting. In people with altered immunity or older adults, untreated scabies can lead to chronic kidney diseases, septicemia and other heart conditions.
How Long Does Scabies Last?
The bugs that cause scabies can live on a person for about one to two months. People getting treated for scabies can experience itching for up to several weeks after the treatment has started. This occurs because even if the mites have been killed, the bugs, including the eggs they laid, still exist in your skin. The rash and irritation can persist until your skin grows new layers.
Hima Gopinath, Kaliaperumal Karthikeyan (2020) Genital scabies: Haven of an unwelcome guest (U.S. National Library of Medicine) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7529175/