Scabies Home > Scabies

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of scabies usually begin slowly, with a minor rash and itching that tends to be worse at night. Scratching spreads the mites to other areas, and, after several weeks, the symptoms worsen. At this point, common symptoms can include:
  • Pimple-like irritations, burrows, or rash on the skin.
  • Intense itching, especially at night and over most of the body.
  • Scaling and redness caused by the scratching.
  • Sores on the body caused by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected with bacteria.
  • Small rounded lumps (often on the penis and scrotum) that may remain for several weeks after treatment.
The scabies rash is typically found on the:
  • Knees
  • Penis
  • Wrists
  • Elbows
  • Breasts
  • Buttocks
  • Webbing between the fingers
  • Shoulder blades.
(Click Scabies Pictures to see pictures of this rash.)

How Is It Diagnosed?

In order to make a scabies diagnosis, your healthcare provider will ask a number of questions, perform a physical exam, and possibly order certain tests.
A diagnosis is most commonly made by looking at the burrows or rash. Your healthcare provider will pay particular attention to where the rash is located, its appearance, and the symptoms you are experiencing. A scabies diagnosis can be definitely made by taking a skin scraping and seeing mites, eggs, or mite fecal matter when the scraping is looked at under a microscope.

Treating Scabies

The goal of scabies treatment is to:
  • Kill the mites 
  • Treat any family members who have been in close contact with the infested person
  • Prevent the scabies from returning.
Both the infected person and family members can be treated with the same medicine.
It is important that all eggs and mites be killed. So all clothes, bedding, and towels used by the infested person should be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer two days before treatment begins. No special cleaning is necessary for coats, furniture, rugs, floors, and walls.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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