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Scabies

Definition

Scabies is an easily spread skin disease caused by a very small type of mite.

Alternative Names

Sarcoptes scabiei

Causes

Scabies is found among people of all groups and ages around the world.

Outbreaks of scabies are more common in nursing homes, nursing facilities, college dorms, and child care centers.

The mites that cause scabies burrow into the skin and lay their eggs. This forms a burrow that looks like a pencil mark. Eggs hatch in 21 days. The itchy rash is an allergic response to the mite.

Pets and animals cannot spread human scabies. It is also not very likely for scabies to be spread by:

Symptoms

Mites may be more widespread on a baby's skin, causing pimples over the trunk, or small blisters over the palms and soles.

Exams and Tests

The doctor will examine your skin for signs of scabies. The doctor will look at scrapings taken from a burrow to look for the mites. A skin biopsy can also be done.

Treatment

HOME CARE

MEDICINES FROM YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

The whole family or sexual partners of infected people should be treated, even if they do not have symptoms.

Creams prescribed by your health care provider are needed to treat scabies.

Apply the medicine all over your body. Creams may be used as a one-time treatment tor they may be repeated in 1 week. 

For hard to treat cases, your health care provider may also prescribe a pill known as Ivermectin.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

Itching may continue for 2 weeks or more after treatment begins. It will disappear if you follow your health care provider's treatment plan.

Most cases of scabies can be cured without any long-term problems. A severe case with a lot of scaling or crusting may be a sign that the person has a disease such as HIV.

Possible Complications

Intense scratching can cause a secondary skin infection, such as impetigo.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scabies Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Atlanta, Ga; November 2, 2010. [online] Accessed January 23, 2014.

Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 15.

Diaz JH. Scabies. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2009:chap 294.



Review Date: 1/23/2014
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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