Scabies Home > Scabies Diagnosis and Treatment

If a person shows symptoms of a scabies infestation, it is important to go to a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. There are no home remedies that are proven to work in this situation. When diagnosing scabies, the healthcare provider will pay particular attention to any burrows or rashes, taking into account where the rash is located, its appearance, and any other symptoms.

An Introduction to Scabies Diagnosis and Treatment

In order to make a scabies diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions, perform a physical exam, and possibly order certain tests.
 

The Physical Exam

A scabies diagnosis is most commonly made by looking at the burrows, or rash, on the skin. The doctor will pay particular attention to:
 
  • Where the rash is located
  • Its appearance
  • The possible symptoms of scabies the person is experiencing.
 

The Skin Scraping

A scabies diagnosis can be confirmed by taking a skin scraping and seeing if mites, eggs, or mite fecal matter are present when the scraping is looked at under a microscope. If a skin scraping or biopsy is taken and returns negative, it is possible that you may still be infested. Typically, there are fewer than 10 mites on the entire body of an infested person; this makes it easy for an infestation to be missed.
 

Medicine Used to Treat Scabies

Several lotions can be used for treating scabies. The most common include:
 
  • Sulfur
  • Lindane
  • Permethrin (Elimite® cream).
 
Always follow the directions provided by your physician or the directions on the package insert. Apply lotion to a clean body from the neck down to the toes, and leave on overnight (8 hours). After 8 hours, take a bath or shower to wash off the lotion. A second scabies treatment of the body with the same lotion may be necessary 7 to 10 days later.
 
For people with HIV or Norwegian scabies, ivermectin, which is taken by mouth, may be used for scabies treatment.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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