Scabies: Everything You Need to Know

Sarcoptes scabiei, a parasitic mite, causes a skin infection known as scabies. These tiny mites can survive on the skin for several months if left untreated. These mites multiply on the skin’s surface before burrowing down and laying their eggs. On the skin, this results in an itchy rash, red in colour.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Exactly Is Scabies? 

Scabies is a skin infection caused by parasitic mites. At any given time, there are around 130 million scabies cases worldwide. Scabies is not a sexually transmitted disease, despite the fact that it is an extremely contagious condition that may readily be communicated between two people through direct skin to skin contact.

Mite infestations can also be passed from person to person via infested bedding or clothing. Intimate interaction is not required. Although scabies might be irritating, it is usually easy to get rid of. Medications that kill mites, as well as their eggs, are commonly used in treatment. Because scabies is extremely contagious, doctors tend to prescribe therapy for most individuals who come into contact with a scabies patient on a regular basis.

Identifying scabies bites and the characteristic red rash may help you locate treatment more quickly.

What Is the Appearance of Scabies? 

After an initial scabies infection, symptoms may take as long as six weeks to show. In patients who have already had scabies, the symptoms frequently appear sooner. Scabies is characterized by a severely itchy rash that worsens at night. If you continuously scratch the diseased region, infected sores may occur. If this happens, medicines may be prescribed to treat the skin infection.

In adults and older children, the following are common scabies sites:

  • armpit
  • nipple
  • buttocks
  • waist
  • wrist
  • elbow
  • Penis
  • the space between your fingers

Scabies can cause the following symptoms in infants and toddlers, as well as the elderly and immunocompromised:

  • face
  • neck
  • head
  • hands
  • foot soles

Hives, tiny bites, pimples under the skin, or pimple-like bumps can all be part of the rash. Occasionally, the mite’s burrow tracks can be observed on the person’s skin. They can come in the form of swollen or discoloured lines.

What Are the Causes of Scabies? 

An infection of microscopic, eight-legged parasitic mites causes scabies. These mites are so microscopic that you can’t see them while they are on your skin, yet their impacts are evident. To survive and eat, scabies mites will burrow into your skin’s top layer. Mites that are female will lay eggs. The scabies mites and their faeces will irritate your skin, resulting in a red, itching rash.

People can readily spread these mites from one person to the next. The most typical method to spread infection is direct skin contact. Infested animals can also spread mites through:

  • clothes
  • beddings
  • furniture

Infestations are easily disseminated in facilities in which people live together in close quarters with one another. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities fall within this category.

What Is the Most Common Treatment for Scabies? 

Scabies is normally treated with various prescription creams, lotions, and ointments often administered directly to your skin. There are various drugs that can be taken orally. Your doctor would most likely tell you to use the medication at night as this is when the mites are at their most active. It’s possible that you’ll have to treat the entire area of your skin, all the way from your neck down. You can wash away the prescription in the morning.

Follow your doctor’s directions to the letter. In about seven days, you might need to repeat the topical therapy.

Scabies is treated with a variety of medications, including:

  • 10 percent crotamiton cream
  • 10 percent sulfur ointment
  • 1 percent lindane lotion
  • 5 percent permethrin cream
  • 25 percent benzyl benzoate lotion

Additional medications may be prescribed by your doctor to further reduce other Scabies’ irritating symptoms. The following drugs are among them:

  • Antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or pramoxine cream, can help with itching treatment.
  • Antibiotics to treat any potential infections that arise from scratching the skin excessively.
  • Creams containing steroid hormones to reduce itching and swelling.

Severe or extensive scabies could require treatment that is more aggressive. Ivermectin (Stromectol) is an oral tablet that is often prescribed to people who suffer from the following conditions:

  • Crusted scabies.
  • Have scabies covering most of their body.
  • Don’t see any reduction in symptoms after initial therapy.

Sulfur is a component of several scabies treatments available on the market. To treat scabies, you can buy sulfur and use it as an ointment, soap, liquid, or shampoo. It’s crucial to remember, however, that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved any over-the-counter scabies remedies.

It may appear that your symptoms are becoming worse during the first week of treatment. However, you should notice decreased itching after the first week, and you’ll most likely be entirely healed by your fourth treatment week. Scabies mites may still be present on skin that hasn’t healed in a month. It’s vital to keep in mind that “post-scabies itch”; might continue for up to a month.

If your symptoms persist after about four weeks in treatment, see your doctor immediately.

Can You Treat Scabies Using Natural Methods? 

Traditional treatments for scabies can result in unpleasant side effects include skin blistering, swelling, redness, or even tingling and numbness. Although these symptoms are usually very momentary, they can be inconvenient.

The following are some of the most common natural scabies treatments:

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has been shown in small tests to help treat scabies, as well as relieve itching and eradicate the rash. It won’t work on scabies mites that have already burrowed into the skin, though.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel is well-known for reducing skin burning and irritation, but a small study found that it was equally as effective at treating scabies as a prescription medication. Just make sure you’re getting pure aloe vera instead of something with aloe vera in it.

Capsaicin cream

Creams produced with capsaicin extracted from cayenne peppers might help ease itching and pain by conditioning the skin to the irritating bugs, though they won’t kill the mites.

Essential oils

As a natural killer of bugs, clove oil should make the mites die if they come into contact with it. Other essential oils, such as nutmeg, lavender, and lemongrass may be useful in the treatment of scabies.


The active ingredients in the neem tree’s leaves, seeds, and bark may destroy the scabies-causing mites. Soaps, lotions, and oils containing the extract of the tree could aid mites to die.

Scabies home remedies have shown to be effective in both easing symptoms and killing scabies-causing mites. Find out more about natural remedies for scabies to see whether one is suited for your situation.

Is Scabies a Contagious Disease? 

Scabies is a disease that spreads from one person to another. It can disseminate in a variety of methods, including:

  • extended skin contact (e.g. holding hands)
  • intimate contact (e.g. sexual intercourse)
  • sharing scabies-infected bedding, towels, or clothing

Scabies is often transmitted among friends, sexual partners, and family members since it is transmitted mostly through direct physical contact. It’s also possible that the infestation will swiftly expand to:

  • nursing homes
  • rehabilitation centres
  • prisons
  • schools

Want to Know More About Scabies?

Scabies is caused by a single type of parasitic mite. Sarcoptes scabiei is the scientific name for this mite. These mites, however, can cause a variety of different infestations.

Typical scabies

This is the most frequent type of infestation. It causes a rash on a person’s wrists, hands, and similar common places. The scalp and face, however, are not infested.

Nodular scabies

Raised itchy lumps and bumps, especially in genital regions, groin, or armpits, are common symptoms of this kind of scabies.

Norwegian scabies

Norwegian scabies, also known as crusted scabies, can develop in some scabies-infected people. This tends to be a more serious and contagious form of scabies. Crusty scabies causes thick skin crusts to form, which contain thousands of scabies mites and their eggs.

Crusted scabies may also seem:

  • grey
  • thick
  • when you touch it, it crumbles easily.

Crusted scabies is most common in those who have a compromised immune system. Persons with AIDS or HIV, individuals who take steroids or specific drugs (such as ones for rheumatoid arthritis), and people going through chemotherapy are all examples of this.

Scabies mites have an easier time overpowering your immune system and multiplying. Crusted scabies spread like regular scabies.

Avoiding direct skin contact with someone who has scabies is the greatest strategy to avoid contracting the disease. It’s also recommended to stay away from scabies-infested clothing and bedding that hasn’t been washed. Scabies mites typically live for between three and four days after they fall off your skin, you’ll need to take extra care to avoid further infestation. Ensure that everything is washed in 122°F (50°C) hot water:

  • towels
  • pillows
  • clothing
  • bedding

The clothes should next be dried for at least 10-30 minutes on high heat in the dryer. Anything that you can’t wash, you should vacuum thoroughly. When you’re done vacuuming, make sure to throw out the bag and clean the vacuum completely with bleach and hot water. Other surfaces that may have scabies mites can be cleaned with bleach and hot water.

Scabies can affect anyone. The mites don’t discriminate based on gender, colour, social position, or income. It also has nothing to do with your personal hygiene and how often you shower or bathe when you get mites. To a scabies mite hunting for a spot to burrow, skin is just skin.

Scabies may be more prominent among individuals who together live in close quarters, such as college dorms. This is due to the fact that scabies infestation is highly contagious and can spread through contaminated surfaces such as furniture.

Toddlers and small children might be particularly susceptible to scabies due to the contagious nature of the disease. The infestation spreads quickly in a daycare centre because of the close touch.

People with a weakened immune system, as well as elderly people, are at a higher risk of developing Norwegian or crusted scabies.

A doctor can probably identify scabies based on a physical examination and examination of the afflicted skin area. They may use a needle to remove a scabies mite from your skin to confirm the diagnosis.

The doctor will most likely scrape off a small skin area to collect a sample of the tissue if a mite cannot be detected easily. The presence of mites or eggs will be confirmed by examining the sample under a microscope.

An ink test for scabies (also known as Burrow Ink Test) may be used to detect mite-created burrows in the skin. A doctor can use a specialized fountain pen to drip ink onto an infested region of the skin to do this test. After that, the ink is wiped away.

Any ink spilt into the tunnels will stay visible to the naked eye. That’s a sign you’ve got a mite infestation.

Bed bugs and scabies are parasites that feed on humans. Bed bugs feed from the outside of your body, whereas scabies does it from the inside of your body.

Scabies is a skin infection caused by microscopic parasitic mites that can burrow into the skin to live there and lay their eggs.

Bed bugs are also tiny, yet they may be seen without any special equipment. They tend to come out during the night to feast on your blood while you’re sleeping. They then flee to your headboard, mattress, or any other soft neighbouring furniture, where they hide.

A typical bed bug rash is limited to the area where the bite occurred. It may appear blotchy and red. You might even notice some blood. Scabies is often more widespread, causing lumpy or scaly bumps.

Scabies and bed bugs can be treated, but both are likely to necessitate treating anyone who may live in your home and physical surroundings. Bed bugs tend to be particularly tough and hard to eradicate. It is possible that you will need to hire a professional exterminator.

On the other hand, scabies does not survive long in the absence of any human contact. Scabies treatment, both for the body and for your home, is usually effective.

In general, scabies mites can survive on humans for as long as two months. However, once they are removed from a person, the mites typically die within three or four days.

If you are going to treat scabies, the burning and itching may persist for several weeks after the start of the treatment. This is due to the fact that even if the scabies mites die, the eggs and mite waste remain in your skin.

The rash and irritation may persist until your skin regenerates new layers.