What is scabies?
Scabies is an itchy rash. It's caused by tiny insects called mites.
The mites get into your skin and lay eggs
The mites spread easily to other people through physical contact
The rash itches very badly
Doctors treat scabies with a medicated cream
What causes scabies?
Scabies is caused by a certain type of mite. The mite tunnels into your skin to lay eggs. This causes severe itching and a rash.
You can get scabies by coming into contact with someone who has scabies. You can also get scabies by using the same towels, bedding, or clothes used by someone who has scabies.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
Severe itching that's usually worse at night
A rash of tiny red bumps that sometimes form in a straight line
The bumps usually are on the fingers, wrists, and arms but can be anywhere on your body (except on an adult’s face)
Babies may also get the rash on their face, scalp (especially behind the ears), palms of their hands, or soles of their feet
Older people may have a very mild rash, making it harder to see
If you have HIV infection, scabies may spread all over your body
How can doctors tell if I have scabies?
Doctors can usually tell based on your symptoms and by looking at your rash
Sometimes, doctors will scrape one or two bumps open
They will look at the scrapings under a microscope to see the mites
How do doctors treat scabies?
Doctors will treat you, your family members, and anyone else who’s had close contact with you.
To kill the mites
Adults and children age 2 and over:
Put a medicated cream suggested by your doctor on your entire body from the neck down
Wash it off after 8 to 14 hours
For babies under age 2:
Put a different medicated cream suggested by your doctor on the baby's body and head
The cream shouldn't go on the skin around the baby’s eyes and mouth
The cream should go in the folds of the baby’s skin, on fingernails and toenails, and in the belly button
People who have a severe case of scabies or a weakened immune system may need to take medicine by mouth.
After the mites are killed, you may still have itching and bumps for up to 3 more weeks. Doctors may have you:
Put a mild medicated cream on the rash or take medicine by mouth to help relieve the itching
Take an antibiotic if you get a skin infection from scratching your skin a lot
How can I keep scabies from spreading?
Mites spread easily from person to person, sometimes to everyone in your household. To keep scabies from spreading:
See a doctor as soon as you have symptoms
Have doctors treat you, your family members, and anyone who’s had close contact (including sexual contact) with you
Also, kill mites that may be on your clothing, towels, and bedding by doing one of the following:
Wash them in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer
Have them professionally dry cleaned
Put them in a closed plastic bag for at least 3 days so that the mites die
Most people get scabies in a place where there are a lot of people, such as a school or in the military. Getting scabies is not related to being unclean.