Scabies Causes, Prevention, Risk Factors And Treatment


The small burrowing mite Sarcoptes scabies is what causes the scratchy skin rash known as scabies.There is significant itching close to the mite's burrow. The need to itch could be more intense at night.

In a household, child care facility, classroom, nursing home, or prison, close person-to-person contact can spread scabies fast. Since scabies spreads so quickly, medical professionals frequently advise treating every member of the family or any close connections.

It is simple to cure scabies. The scabies-causing mites and their eggs are killed by prescription skin treatments and tablets. Nonetheless, the itching may continue for several weeks following therapy.


A small, eight-legged mite is responsible for scabies. Just below the skin, the female mite excavates a tunnel and burrows there to lay her eggs.

The mite eggs hatch and the larvae go to the skin's surface where they develop. The skin of other persons or other sections of the body may subsequently become infected with these mites. Itching arises from the body's allergic reaction to the mites, their eggs, and their feces.

Close skin-to-skin contact and, less commonly, sharing clothing or bedding with someone who has scabies are the two main ways that the mites spread.

Scabies is not transferred by pets to people. Animal-specific scabies mites cannot survive or procreate in humans.

If the mite penetrates the skin, there may be a temporary irritation. However, the mite will die after a few days.

Hence, no therapy is required.

How to check if you have Scabies?

If you have any scabies symptoms, see your healthcare professional.

Many skin disorders, including dermatitis or eczema, can also result in skin irritation and tiny bumps. Your doctor can determine the precise source of your symptoms so you can get the correct treatments. Antihistamines or over-the-counter lotions can lessen inflammation. Yet, they cannot eliminate the mites or their eggs.

Risk Factors

In crowded settings where intimate body and skin contact is frequent, scabies may spread quickly. The locations of scabies epidemics are frequently institutions like nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and jails. Scabies infestations are very frequently found in childcare centers.


Symptoms of scabies include:

  • Itching that is often acute and worse at night
  • Little bumps or blisters on the skin that are organized into wavy, narrow tunnels.
  • Scabies frequently appear in skin folds. Yet, scabies can affect a wide range of bodily parts.

Scabies most frequently affects adults and older children:

  • Between the toes and the fingers
  • Under the arms
  • Inside of the wrists and around the waist
  • Inside of the elbows
  • The bottoms of the feet
  • Around the nipples and on the chest
  • Little below the abdominal button
  • Close to the genitalia
  • Around the groin
  • Within the buttocks

Common scabies locations in newborns and young children often include:

  • Fingers
  • Head, neck, and face
  • The hands and palms
  • The bottoms of the feet

If you have already had scabies, symptoms may appear a few days after exposure. Symptoms of scabies might take up to six weeks to appear if you have never had them. Even if you have no symptoms currently, you can still transmit scabies.


Do the following actions to stop scabies from returning and to stop the mites from infecting other people:

Wash all linens and clothing. The mites and their eggs are killed by heat. Before starting treatment, wash all of your clothing, towels, and bedding in hot, soapy water. Anything you can not wash at home can be dry-cleaned.

Deny the mites' food. Put anything you can not wash in sealed plastic bags and store them somewhere out of the way for a week, like your garage. Without nourishment, mites expire after a few days.

Vacuum and clean. Cleaning your house is a smart idea if you want to stop the spread of scabies. Those with crusted scabies are most affected by this. Furniture, rugs, and other surfaces should be vacuumed. 


With a medicinal lotion or tablet, the mites and eggs of scabies are killed. No medical procedure is accessible without a prescription. A number of creams and lotions are prescribed alone.

Most likely, your doctor will instruct you to administer the drug to your entire body, starting at your neck. It must be left on for a minimum of 8 to 14 hours. You might need to use the lotion twice on occasion. If new problems develop, more treatments could be required.

Your doctor will probably advise treating all family members and other close contacts, even if they do not have scabies symptoms, because scabies spreads so quickly.

Typical scabies treatment entails

Permethrin lotion. A skin lotion with ingredients that kill mites is called permethrin. It is regarded as safe for adults, women who are pregnant or nursing, and children older than two months.

Sulfur lotion. Scabies can be treated with sulfur cream, which can be applied overnight, removed, and then reapplied five nights in a succession. It is safe to use sulphur when pregnant and while a child is under two months old.

Ivermectin (Stromectol). When prescription treatments for treating scabies are ineffective, ivermectin can be given as a tablet. Those with crusted scabies or weakened immune systems frequently need to take it. Ivermectin is not advised for use in infants, pregnant women, or nursing mothers.

Although these medications immediately eradicate the mites, many people may still experience itching.

If a patient is unable to utilize these medications or does not get relief from them, their doctor may recommend other skin care procedures.

Complications of Scabies

Over scratching can damage your skin and lead to infections like impetigo. Impetigo is a skin-surface infection that is frequently brought on by staph bacteria (staphylococci) or, less frequently, strep germs.

Those who are susceptible to crusted scabies, a more severe form of scabies, include:

  • Little children
  • Developmentally disabled individuals
  • Individuals whose immune systems are compromised, such as those who have HIV or lymphoma, or those who have had organ transplantation
  • Those with severe illnesses, such as those residing in hospitals or nursing homes
  • Elderly residents of nursing facilities
  • Large portions of the body are affected by crusted scabies, which causes the skin to become scaly and crusty. It can be challenging to cure and is highly infectious. 

A person with scabies often has 10 to 15 mites. An individual with crusted scabies, however, can have millions of mites. But itching might not happen or might be slight.

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Page last reviewed: Apr 17, 2023

Next review due: Apr 17, 2025

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