• Scabies is a common contagious skin infection that is caused by a tiny mite. It is an allergic reaction to the female mite, which burrows into the skin and lays her eggs. Once the eggs have hatched, the new mites begin the process of mating and laying more eggs within the skin.

    Signs and Symptoms

    The most common symptom of scabies is chronic itching, which may increase when skin is exposed to extreme heat, like a hot bath or shower. Little red bumps that are similar to hives or pimples may appear on the skin. In severe cases, skin may become scaly or crusty.

    Rash Characteristics

    After several weeks, the mites begin to spread and the itching and symptoms worsen. At this stage, most people develop a rash. Common characteristics of a scabies rash include redness and scaling caused by scratching; sores on the body that can become infected with bacteria; and burrows, skin rashes and pimplelike irritations.


    There are many parts of the body to which scabies mites are attracted, but they tend to favor warmer locales. Scabies rashes are typically found on knees, wrists, buttocks, inner thighs, breasts, shoulder blades and webbing between the fingers.

    Cause of Scabies

    Generally, scabies is spread by prolonged direct skin-to-skin contact with an infested person. Scabies is most likely to spread to household members and sexual partners and is often passed by the sharing of bedding, clothing, cloth furniture and towels.


    A doctor will more than likely give you a physical exam, ask you questions about your symptoms and possibly order tests. Typically, a diagnosis is made by examining the rash or burrows on the skin.


    Lotions that treat scabies are available only with a prescription. The main goal of treating scabies is to kill the mites. Treatment for household members and sexual partners is key, even if they have not shown any signs. A person who has never had the infection may take up to six weeks to show symptoms.


    American Academy of Dermatology

    Centers for Disease Control

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