Scabies (The Itch)

Scabies, also known as “the itch,” is a skin condition caused by tiny mites.  It commonly leads to intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash that may affect various areas of the body.

How does scabies spread?

Scabies is contagious and can spread quickly in areas where people are in close physical contact. Scabies is sometimes spread by sharing clothing, towels, or a bed. A quick handshake or hug usually will not spread scabies.

What are the signs of scabies?

Signs of scabies begin two to six weeks after contact. If you have had scabies before, symptoms appear one to four days after contact. Scabies usually causes a pimple-like rash and severe itching, especially at night. You may see tiny, greyish-white lines on the skin’s surface between the fingers, wrists, elbows, armpits, nipples, penis, waist, belt line, and buttocks.

In infants and very young children, you may see signs of scabies on the head, face, neck, palms, and soles of the feet.

How can I prevent scabies?

  • Avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has scabies.
  • Do not share clothing, towels or a bed with someone with scabies.

How do I know for sure it is scabies?

See your healthcare provider to determine if you or your child has scabies. Itching and skin rashes can have many other causes.

Treatment for scabies:

  • Your heathcare provider may prescribe a cream or lotion. Follow the directions provided with the recommended or prescribed product.
  • Treat all people who have had skin-to-skin contact with the affected person.
  • There is other medication available to help relieve the itching. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information.

Scabies mites can survive on surfaces for up to two to three days.

What do I do around my house?

  • Wash bedding, clothes, and towels in hot water, and use the dryer on the hot cycle.
  • Have items professionally dry cleaned.
  • If you cannot wash an item, place the item in a sealed bag for three days to one week.
  • Vacuum any items that you cannot bag or wash.

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Last updated: 2023-07-25