Tell Me About Scabies
Scabies is a common infection caused by an infestation with the Secretes scabiei mite. It is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with an infested person. Treatment for the condition involves killing the mites, treating any family members who have been in close contact, and preventing the mites from returning.
Scabies is an infestation of the skin with the microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabiei.
Scabies is a common infection found worldwide, and it affects people of all races and social classes. The infection spreads rapidly under crowded conditions where there is frequent skin-to-skin contact between people, such as in:
- Childcare facilities
- Nursing homes.
As mentioned, scabies is caused by an infestation with the scabies mite (Sarcoptes scabiei). It is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with an infested person. Contact must be prolonged (a quick handshake or hug will usually not spread the infestation). Scabies is easily spread to sexual partners and household members. Infestation may also occur by sharing clothing, towels, and bedding.
(Click Scabies Causes for more information.)
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 scabies 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:
- Webbing between the fingers
- Shoulder blades.