Scabies … General overview

Scabies is a skin infestation caused by a very tiny mite known as the “Sarcoptes scabiei.” Scabies is found worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes. Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent. Institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and hospitals are often sites of scabies outbreaks. Child care facilities also are a common site of scabies infestations. Scabies can also easily transmit between the couple and the members of the same family. It is also transmitted through the using of the same of towels, clothing, and sleeping places. However, this disease does not infect pets, yet, they get a different disease called “mange.”

The symptoms of scabies are:

  • A pimple-like (papular) itchy rash.
  • Severe itching (pruritus), especially at night.
  • Skin sores due to scratching the rash.

There are some products used to treat scabies are called scabicides because they kill scabies mites; some also kill eggs. Also, the towels, bedding, and clothing of the infected person must be washed with hot water and then dried by heat.


Scabies is an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite the microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. Scabies is spread worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes.

Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent. Institutions such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and extended-care facilities are often sites of scabies outbreaks.

Scabies is transmitted through skin contact with an infected person, yet that contact is conditioned to be direct and lasts for a long time. Meaning, the infection does not transmit usually through shaking hands or fast hugging.

Scabies mite is transmitted easily between couples and family members living in the same house. Also sharing others’ clothes, bed linen, or towels helps the scabies mite to transmit.

Immunocompromised persons (those who have a weak immune system), elderly, disabled, or debilitated are more exposed to a severe form of scabies called the Norwegian scabies or Crusted scabies (thick crusts of skin).

Scabies mites do not live more than forty-eight to seventy-two hours away from the human body. On the other hand, adult female scabies mites, feeding on the human body, can live up to one month.

Symptoms of scabies:

Scabies can be seen, at first, on the hands, where scabies mite digs tiny tunnels in the skin, causing elevated tracks or grooves and rashes.

It may also cause scabies irritations like rashes or blisters in the following areas of the body:

– The webbing between the fingers.

–  The skin folds on the wrist, elbow, or knee.

–  The male member ‘male organ.’

–  The breasts.

–  The shoulder blades.

The infected person would feel severe itching in most of the body, especially at night, and that itching may causes skin sores, and then bacteria probably would infect those sores.

If a person has never had scabies before, symptoms may take as long as four to six weeks to begin. In a person who has had scabies before, symptoms usually appear much sooner (few days) after exposure.

Diagnosis of scabies:

You can diagnose scabies when examining tunnels or rashes caused. Also a sample of the skin might be taken to search scabies mites, its eggs, or wastes, to confirm the diagnosis.

Sometimes the result of the sample or biopsy may come negative, as the mites cannot easily be found, and this would not mean that the patient does not have scabies. Moreover, there would be less than ten mites on the entire patient’s body normally.

Treatment of scabies:

The infected person along with those living with him/her in the same house – family members and sexual partner- , in addition to anyone close to him, are supposed to receive treatment.

If the doctor recommended treatment for all members of the family, they all are supposed to get the same treatment at the same time in order to prevent re-infestation.

There are several types of ointments, creams, and lotions that can be applied to the skin directly to treat scabies. The patient has to make sure to follow the doctor’s instructions very carefully. However, Permethrin 5% is considered the most common ointment used to treat scabies.

The patient may need to treat all of the skin from the neck down. The medicine can be washed off the following morning, it needs eight hours. Clean clothes should be worn after treatment.

Items such as bedding, clothing, and towels used by a person with scabies can be decontaminated by machine-washing in hot water and drying using the hot cycle or by dry-cleaning.

Children and pregnant women are to be treated using special more-kind ointments.

Itching may last from two weeks to three weeks, and that does not mean the patient is still infected. The doctor may also prescribe additional medications to help relieve some of the bothersome symptoms associated with scabies. No more rash is supposed to appear after one to two days of starting treatment.


Scabies is an itchy, highly contagious skin disease caused by an infestation by the itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei, and it can only be seen with a microscope.

Treatment should be applied on the person with scabies along with all persons close to him/her.

Following your doctor’s instructions on treating this disease helps you to avoid re-infestation.