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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is scabies?
Scabies is a common contagious skin condition that typically causes severe itching and rash.
What causes scabies?
Scabies is caused by the tiny parasitic mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, burrowing under the skin's surface to lay its eggs. It cannot be seen with the naked eye and is passed on by close physical contact, especially skin-to-skin contact. In rare cases, scabies may also be …
How common is scabies?
Scabies is a very common condition, affecting an estimated 300 million people all over the world.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
Most people who catch scabies will experience intense itching and a rash. A close look at the affected area may show burrows, which appear as short, silvery-grey raised tracks that are straight or squiggly. You may also notice small itchy lumps on your …
How is scabies diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose scabies by visual examination of a skin sample under a microscope and by a simple ink test of the burrows. Further diagnostic methods, such as a skin biopsy or histopathology test, may be required to confirm a suspected scabies infestation.
How is scabies treated?
The most common treatment for scabies is permethrin cream. If an alternative treatment is required, benzyl benzoate emulsion is generally used. A course of treatment may last several weeks, until no eggs or mites remain. Steroid creams and antihistamines are also …
Is scabies serious?
Highly irritating as it may be, scabies is normally not a serious or life-threatening condition. However, in a person whose immune system is weakened by factors such as old age, serious illness or malnutrition, scabies can sometimes develop into more severe forms such …
Can I prevent scabies?
Infestation or reinfestation with scabies can be prevented by practicing good hygiene measures, including: cutting and cleaning fingernails; avoiding ongoing physical contact with people who have scabies; washing clothing and bedding thoroughly with hot, soapy …
About this article
Author: Dr Idan Ben-Barak PhD, MSc, BSc (Med)
First answered: 19 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.4 out of 5
Votes: 911 (Click smiley face below left to rate)