What is scabies?
Scabies is a parasitic disease of the skin caused by a mite.
How is scabies spread?
Transmission of scabies usually takes place within families, households or other situations in which frequent skin-to-skin contact occurs. Sleeping with an infested individual is the most common mode of transmission. Holding hands also contributes to the spread of this disease. The mites can be transmitted by sheets, towels, furniture, or clothing but this is rare. Direct contact with an infested individual is a much more likely source of infestation.
Who gets scabies?
Anyone who has direct skin-to-skin contact with an infested person can get scabies.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
The penetration of the mite is visible as papules, vesicles, or thin linear burrows containing the mites and their eggs. Intense itching is present, especially at night. Other symptoms include: small bumps, blisters, or scratch-like raised lines and open sores (caused by scratching).
How soon do symptoms appear?
Symptoms may appear from 2 - 6 weeks in people who have not previously been exposed to scabies. Persons who have had scabies previously may develop symptoms one to four days after re-exposure.
When and for how long is a person able to spread scabies?
A person is able to spread scabies until mites and eggs are destroyed by treatment.
What is the treatment for scabies?
If you suspect you have scabies, see you doctor. The doctor will prescribe a skin medication that is applied to the whole body, except the head and neck, where it will remain for approximately 8-12 hours to kill the mites. After that time period, shower or bathe to remove the medication and put on clean clothes to prevent re-infestation. A second treatment may be applied in one week to kill any remaining mites. Check all family members and treat as prescribed by your physician.
Put all clothes which have come into direct contact with the skin (underwear, trousers, shirts, etc.), towels and bedding through a hot water cycles in the washing machine. Those articles which can not be machine washed can be dry cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag for 48 hours.
This fact sheet is for informational purposes only. It should not be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you think that you may have this infection, or have questions about the disease described above, you should consult your health care provider.
For additional information on this disease, visit the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention website.
To contact the Epidemiology and Emerging Infections Program, please call 860-509-7994.