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Disease: Scabies Scabies
Category: Dermatological diseases

Disease Definition:

A tiny eight-legged burrowing mite called sarcoptes scabiei causes scabies, which is an itchy condition. Intense itching is caused by the presence of the mite, which becomes especially strong at night when someone’s in bed.


This condition is contagious, and close physical contact causes it to spread in a family, nursing home, school class or a child care group. Usually, entire families or contact groups are recommended treatment to eliminate the mite because of its contagious nature.


Even though a person may still experience some itching for several weeks after treatment, but medications that are applied to the skin kill the mites that cause scabies.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


Some of the signs and symptoms of scabies may be:


  • Itching, which is usually severe and becomes worse at night
  • Thin, irregular burrow tracks that are made up of tiny blisters or bumps on the skin.


Usually, in the folds of the skin is where these burrows or tracks appear. Scabies could affect almost any part of the body, however, the parts of the body that are most commonly affected in adults include:


  • In armpits
  • On knees
  • On shoulder blades
  • Around the waist
  • Around breasts
  • On the inner elbow
  • Between fingers
  • On buttocks
  • Along the insides of wrists
  • Around the male genital area
  • On the soles of the feet


Some of the most common parts of the body that are affected in children may be:


  • Palms of the hands
  • Scalp
  • Soles of the feet
  • Face
  • Neck


Different species of mite prefer one specific type of host and don't live long away from that preferred host. This means that dogs, cats and humans are all affected by their own distinct species of mite. Contact with the animal scabies mite could only cause a temporary skin reaction in humans. However, people are not likely to develop full-blown scabies from this source as they do from contact with the human scabies mite.


The type of mite that causes scabies in humans is microscopic. In a human, the female mite will burrow just beneath the skin, and it will deposit its eggs in a tunnel that it makes. In 21 days, those eggs will mature, and the new mites will work their way to the surface of the skin. There, they will mature and spread either to other areas of the skin, or to the skin of other people. The body's allergic reaction to the mites, their waste and their eggs causes the itching of scabies.


These mites could be spread by close physical contact and in some cases, sharing clothing or bedding with an infected person.



A secondary bacterial infection such as impetigo could occur when the vigorous itching causes the skin to break. Usually, the staph (staphylococci) bacteria, or sometimes the strep (streptococci) bacteria cause impetigo, which is a superficial infection of the skin.


In some people, especially those with weakened immune systems, such as people with chronic leukemia or HIV; or those who are very ill, such as those in nursing facilities or hospitals, scabies may become a persistent and widespread problem. In those people, crusted scabies may develop, which is a more severe form of the condition. Crusted scabies is very contagious and difficult to treat. This type covers large areas of the body and is usually crusty and scaly.


Scabies is treated with medications thatkill the mites promptly, but the itching won't stop entirely for several weeks. There are several creams or lotions that should be applied over all the body from the neck down, and it should be left on for at least eight hours. Some examples are crotamiton and permethrin.


People who don't respond to the prescription lotions and creams and people with altered immune systems are prescribed oral medications.


Usually, all of the family members and other close contacts will be recommended treatment, even if they don't show any signs of scabies infestation, because scabies spreads so easily.


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