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Scabies

Sabies miteScabies is a very itchy skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into your skin.  Scabies mites are spread by close contact with someone who has scabies. They can also be spread by sharing towels, bed sheets, and clothing.  Scabies will not go away without treatment - you need to use a special cream or lotion that a doctor prescribes.

For more information on symptoms, causes, treatments and prevention see the Overview section.

Information for Health Professionals

Scabies is a very itchy skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into your skin. Scabies can affect people of all ages and from all incomes and social levels. Even people who keep themselves very clean can get scabies

 

Scabies causes severe itching that is usually worse at night. Small children and older adults tend to have the worst itching. Children typically have worse skin reactions.


If this is the first time you have had scabies, it may be several weeks before you have itching and skin sores. But if you have had it before, symptoms will probably start in a few days. The itching tends to be worse at night.

 

Scabies mites are spread by close contact with someone who has scabies. Scabies can also be spread by sharing towels, bed sheets, and clothing.


Scabies is contagious. It often affects several family members at the same time. If you have scabies, you can spread mites to other people before and after you develop symptoms, for as long as you remain infested and untreated.

 

The most common complication of scabies is a bacterial skin infection, such as impetigo. This most often occurs when the skin has been scratched raw. Hair follicles may also become infected (folliculitis). Antibiotics may be needed to treat a bacterial skin infection. The skin can become thick, red, and scaly or shiny from persistent scratching.

A doctor can usually diagnose scabies based on your symptoms. Scabies is especially likely if you have had close contact with other people who have had similar symptoms.   


Sometimes a doctor confirms a diagnosis by looking for signs of mites on a sample of your skin. The doctor gently scrapes some dry skin from an affected area and then looks at it under a microscope. This test is not painful for most people.

 

Scabies will not go away without treatment. You need to use a special cream or lotion that a doctor prescribes. In severe cases, your doctor may also give you pills to take.


Some scabies medicines are not safe for children, older adults, and women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. To avoid dangerous side effects, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.


 If you have scabies, you and anyone you have close contact with must all be treated at once. This keeps the mites from being passed back and forth from person to person. 


All of your sexual partners need to be treated. Other people living in your house do not need to be treated unless they have shared your bed, clothes or towels. All clothes and bed sheets need to be washed with hot water or dry cleaned. Anything that cannot be washed in hot water or dry cleaned should be put in a sealed airtight plastic bag for three days to kill the mites. 


After treatment, the itching usually lasts another 2 to 4 weeks. It will take your body that long to get over the allergic reaction caused by the mites. If you still have symptoms after 4 weeks, you may need another treatment.

 

Avoiding close skin-to-skin contact with someone who has scabies, as well as with their personal items, will help you avoid getting scabies. People who have scabies are encouraged to use care to avoid spreading the mites to others.

SOURCE: Scabies ( )
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