Scabies is a skin condition caused by mites that burrow into the skin and lay eggs. Mites are not visible on the skin and go relatively unnoticed until the skin begins reacting to the mite infection. Usually, the skin responds by forming a rash that itches and worsens without treatment. However, it can take up to 6 weeks for this reaction to occur, giving the mite plenty of time to feed and reproduce. People who suspect they may have scabies or have been exposed to the mite that causes it should see a dermatologist.

Did you know…

that scabies is contagious and can affect anyone regardless of how clean they are? Though the mite responsible for scabies cannot survive without a host, it can live for 2 to 3 days while it searches for one. This means that it is possible to contract scabies mites from objects like clothing, although the mite is most frequently acquired from skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be treated for scabies?

If you think you could have scabies, seek immediate treatment from your dermatologist. Symptoms to watch out for include intense itching – especially at night, as well as a bumpy rash and thick crusts on the skin. Allowing the rash to worsen will lead to persistent scratching, which could result in sores and infection. Treatment can alleviate the itch, clear the rash, and eliminate the mites responsible for your discomfort.

What should I expect during scabies treatment?

If you are diagnosed with scabies, you, your sexual partner, and anyone who lives in your home should be treated. Treatment is relatively simple, involving the use of a topical medicine applied at night before bed. You’ll shower the medication off the following morning, repeating this treatment again after 7 days. Many types of scabies ointments are available, including medication that is safe enough for use during pregnancy and on babies as young as 4 weeks old. In some cases, an oral medication may also be necessary. For your comfort, your dermatologist may prescribe an antihistamine and steroid cream to reduce inflammation and itching. An antibiotic will be necessary if you have any secondary infections caused by scratching.

What type of outcome should I expect after scabies treatment?

If you undergo scabies treatment, the obvious goal is to rid yourself of the mites and treat any infections you may have. You can expect the scabies rash to worse during treatment, taking up to 4 weeks to heal completely. Any rash that remains after that time period indicates that mites may still be present. See your dermatologist again to repeat treatment. Though most patients only need one treatment, it is normal to require multiple scabies treatments to achieve a total recovery.