Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow their way through the top layer of your skin.
Who Gets Scabies & Why
Scabies are contagious and usually spread through close, intimate contact. Once the mites burrow under the skin, they lay eggs continuing the cycle.
Mites can live up to a week without human contact and although they are typically passed through skin-to-skin contact. You can also get scabies through infested clothing, bed linens, and other items.
Anyone can get scabies, but those most at risk include: children, mothers of young children, young adults who are sexually active and those living or working in institutions such as nursing homes, prisons, assisted living residences, etc.
Severe itching that is worse at night is the most common symptom and typically begins within one to four days after the mite burrows under the skin. However, the first time an individual is affected, it can take up to six weeks before the body becomes sensitized and symptoms appear.
The skin rash that develops with scabies looks like tiny bumps or pimples that form a line. Scratching the bumps can cause sores that may lead to infection.
Crusted scabies is a severe form of the condition usually seen in individuals with weakened immune systems. These infestations can involve thousands of mites.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Scabies
Your dermatologist will typically identify scabies through a visual examination or skin scraping performed at the dermatology clinic.
Most cases of scabies are treated with prescription creams or lotions that are applied at bedtime and washed off in the morning. The process may need to be repeated in one week.
Oral Ivermectin may be prescribed to individuals with a severe scabies outbreak or a compromised immune system.
Other medications such as antihistamines, steroid creams or pills, and antibiotics may be prescribed to control itching and infection.