Human scabies; Sarcoptes scabiei
Scabies is an easily-spread skin disease caused by a very small mite.
Scabies is found among people of all groups and ages around the world.
Outbreaks of scabies are more common in nursing homes, nursing facilities, college dorms, and child care centers.
The mites that cause scabies burrow into the skin and lay their eggs. This forms a burrow that looks like a pencil mark. Eggs hatch in 21 days. The itchy rash is an allergic response to the mite.
Pets and animals usually do not spread human scabies. It is also not very likely for scabies to be spread through swimming pools.
A type of scabies called crusted (Norwegian) scabies is a severe infestation with very large numbers of mites. People whose immune systems are weakened are most affected.
Symptoms of scabies include:
The health care provider will examine the skin for signs of scabies.
Tests that may done include:
MEDICINES FROM YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
The whole family or sexual partners of infected people should be treated, even if they do not have symptoms.
Creams prescribed by your provider are needed to treat scabies.
Apply the medicine all over your body. Creams may be used as a one-time treatment or they may be repeated in 1 week.
For hard to treat cases, the provider may also prescribe a pill known as ivermectin as a one-time dose.
Itching may continue for 2 weeks or more after treatment begins. It will disappear if you follow the provider's treatment plan.
Most cases of scabies can be cured without any long-term problems. A severe case with a lot of scaling or crusting may be a sign that the person has a weakened immune system.
Intense scratching can cause a secondary skin infection, such as
Call your provider if:
Diaz JH. Scabies. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 295.
Tucker WFG, Powell JB. Scabies. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 215.
Last reviewed on: 10/9/2015
Reviewed by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.