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What is scabies?

Scabies is an infestation of mites. These tiny insects leave small red bumps that cause intense itching. The mites burrowing into the skin where they lay eggs that hatch a few days later cause the itching.

  • Scabies is highly contagious; it spreads from close personal contact.
  • It occurs mostly in children and young adults.
  • Treatment includes antibiotic creams.
  • If one member of your family has it, your entire family will most likely be treated as well.
  • All clothing and bedding should be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer.

Are scabies common?

While scabies can affect people of all ages, it occurs mostly in children and young adults.

Scabies | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of scabies?

The most common symptom of scabies is a rash. If your child is under 2, the rash tends to be on the head, neck, palms, and soles. If your child is older, the rash is usually on the hands, chest, between the fingers, wrists, belt line, thighs, belly button, in the groin area, and in the armpits. In addition to a rash, the most common symptoms include:

  • itching, usually severe
  • scaly or crusty skin (with advanced conditions)

It may take between four to six weeks for your child to develop symptoms of scabies after coming in contact with an infected person.

What causes scabies?

Scabies is highly contagious and spreads from person to person while they are sleeping together in the same bed or have close personal contact.

Scabies | Diagnosis & Treatments

How are scabies diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine your child's skin and skin crevices. Our specialists may take a sample of your child's skin, obtained by scraping the skin, to look at under a microscope to confirm the presence of mites.

How are scabies treated?

Scabies is treatable and usually all members in your family will be treated at the same time. It's important to wash all clothes and bedding in hot water and dry in a hot dryer. Clothing and other objects that cannot be washed (i.e., pillows, stuffed animals) should be placed in a plastic bag for at least one week.

The following is the typical treatment for scabies. Note that the itching may continue for about one week after the treatment begins.

  • prescription creams and lotions, such as permethrin and lindane solutions
  • oral antihistamine medication (to help relieve itching)
  • topical ointments and cool baths

Scabies | Programs & Services