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How To Recognize The Symptoms Of Scabies
 by: Scott Mogul

Symptoms of scabies include a scabies rash, which looks like tiny red bumps or blisters, and severe itching. You may also see tiny red “threads” between the bumps, but these are so small that they can be difficult to see. The itching is by far the worst of the symptoms of scabies. It is relentless and can keep you up at night.

Scabies is a condition in which one becomes infested with mites called Sarcoptes scabeie. These eight-legged mites are about 1/3 of a millimeter long. They cannot be seen with the naked eye but can be viewed with a magnifying glass or microscope. The mites burrow into the skin and cause a scabies rash.

How do you get scabies?

You can get scabies through close physical contact with someone who has scabies. Close physical contact is required. For instance, scabies is often transmitted during sexual contact. It can also be spread from a parent to a child or from a child to a parent when the parent is holding the child. It is unlikely to be spread during casual contact like shaking hands with someone who has scabies, though.

The mites can only live outside the body for a very short time, so you are unlikely to get scabies from bed linens, clothing, towels, etc. that have been used by a person with scabies, though it is possible. You cannot get scabies by drinking from the same cup as someone who has it or by using the same bathroom. You should avoid close contact with anyone who has symptoms of scabies or a scabies rash, however.

Scabies cannot be spread from animals to humans. Dogs can get a form of mites that is often called “the mange” which has symptoms of scabies similar to those humans get, but it is not the same thing. People cannot get the same form of scabies that dogs get, and dogs cannot get the same form of scabies that people get.

How do you get rid of scabies?

If you have symptoms of scabies, you will want to get scabies treatment right away. Untreated, symptoms of scabies will just get worse and the itching will grow more and more severe.

Scabies treatment may include a topical cream and/or an oral medication. Generally only one or the other is prescribed. Both are about equally effective. The topical treatment has fewer side effects, but is messier and less convenient than the oral medication. The topical cream is usually applied to the skin from the neck down, left on for about eight hours or overnight, and then washed off. This should be repeated in seven days. Oral medication is taken as soon as symptoms of scabies are diagnosed, and then a second dose is taken two weeks later. You will need to see a doctor to make sure that you have a scabies rash and not some other skin condition. Then your doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment for you. Family members or any other persons who may have been ex posed should also be treated, even if they do not show symptoms of scabies, but to be on the safe side.

It is usually recommended that you wash bed linens and clothing in hot water to kill any mites there. Scabies can live for about 24-36 hours outside of the body, so wash any clothing, towels, or other items you have used during that length of time prior to treatment. You do not need to worry about cleaning any other items because any mites left on them will die on their own.

Scabies is easy to diagnose and treat, so make sure you see your doctor at the first sign of a scabies rash so that you can begin scabies treatment right away.

About The Author

This article was written by Scott Mogul, editor for This website provides information on recognizing and treating the scabies rash.

This article was posted on July 16, 2007


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