Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the outer layers of the skin. The scabies mites are spread through close contact with an infested person, such as by touching or by sleeping in the same bed.
Severe itching that is usually worse at night and a rash with tiny blisters or sores in a line or curved track are the most common symptoms. These symptoms usually occur between the fingers, in the creases of the elbows or in the armpits, around the waistline, on the genitals, and around the anus. In children, signs of scabies may also appear on the neck, face, scalp, the palms of the hands, or the soles of the feet.
Scabies can be spread during the entire time a person is infested, even before symptoms, such as itching and skin sores, appear. Symptoms appear 4 to 6 weeks after a person has been infested for the first time. If a person becomes reinfested, the symptoms are noticed within a few days.
Scabies will not go away on its own. Medicine that a doctor prescribes, as a cream, lotion, or pills, is needed to cure scabies. Delaying treatment increases the risk that the mites will spread to other people. Bedding, towels, and clothes that have been in contact with the infested person need to be washed.
Last Revised: January 23, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
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