taken from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/scabies/factsht_scabies.htm
What is scabies?
Scabies is an infestation of the skin with the microscopic
mite Sarcoptes scabei. Infestation is common, found
worldwide, and affects people of all races and social
classes. Scabies spreads rapidly under crowded conditions
where there is frequent skin-to-skin contact between
people, such as in hospitals, institutions, child-care
facilities, and nursing homes.
What are the signs and symptoms of scabies infestation?
Pimple-like irritations, burrows or rash of the skin,
especially the webbing between the fingers; the skin
folds on the wrist, elbow, or knee; the penis, the breast,
or shoulder blades. Intense itching, especially at night
and over most of the body. Sores on the body caused
by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected
How did I get scabies?
By direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person
already infested with scabies. Contact must be prolonged
(a quick handshake or hug will usually not spread infestation).
Infestation is easily spread to sexual partners and
household members. Infestation may also occur by sharing
clothing, towels, and bedding.
Who is at risk for severe infestation?
People with weakened immune systems and the elderly
are at risk for a more severe form of scabies, called
Norwegian or crusted scabies.
How long will mites live?
Once away from the human body, mites do not survive
more than 48-72 hours. When living on a person, an adult
female mite can live up to a month.
Did my pet spread scabies to me?
No. Pets become infested with a different kind of scabies
mite. If your pet is infested with scabies, (also called
mange) and they have close contact with you, the mite
can get under your skin and cause itching and skin irritation.
However, the mite dies in a couple of days and does
not reproduce. The mites may cause you to itch for several
days, but you do not need to be treated with special
medication to kill the mites. Until your pet is successfully
treated, mites can continue to burrow into your skin
and cause you to have symptoms.
How soon after infestation will symptoms begin?
For a person who has never been infested with scabies,
symptoms may take 4-6 weeks to begin. For a person who
has had scabies, symptoms appear within several days.
You do not become immune to an infestation.
How is scabies infestation diagnosed?
Diagnosis is most commonly made by looking at the burrows
or rash. A skin scraping may be taken to look for mites,
eggs, or mite fecal matter to confirm the diagnosis.
If a skin scraping or biopsy is taken and returns negative,
it is possible that you may still be infested. Typically,
there are fewer than 10 mites on the entire body of
an infested person; this makes
it easy for an infestation to be missed.
Can scabies be treated?
Yes. Several lotions are available to treat scabies.
Always follow the directions provided by your physician
or the directions on the package insert. Apply lotion
to a clean body from the neck down to the toes and left
overnight (8 hours). After 8 hours, take a bath or shower
to wash off the lotion. Put on clean clothes. All clothes,
bedding, and towels used by the
infested person 2 days before treatment should be washed
in hot water; dry in a hot dryer. A second treatment
of the body with the same lotion may be necessary 7-10
days later. Pregnant women and children are often treated
with milder scabies medications.
Who should be treated for scabies?
Anyone who is diagnosed with scabies, as well as his
or her sexual partners and persons who have close, prolonged
contact to the infested person should also be treated.
If your health care provider has instructed family members
to be treated, everyone should receive treatment at
the same time to prevent reinfestation.
How soon after treatment will I feel better?
Itching may continue for 2-3 weeks, and does not mean
that you are still infested. Your health care provider
my prescribe additional medication to relieve itching
if it is severe. No new burrows or rashes should appear
24-48 hours after effective treatment.
This fact sheet is for information
only and is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis
or as a substitute for consultation with a health care
provider. If you have any questions about the disease
described above or think that you may have a parasitic
infection, consult a health care provider.