Scabies is a really itchy skin condition caused by microscopic mites Sarcoptes scabiei which will dig into the skin. It can affect people of all ages and walks of life.
Oooh! Just typing up this page is making me itch!
What actually causes the itching is when the mite burrows, it deposits feces and lays eggs in the skin. The itching will tend to be worse at nighttime and when you're showering or bathing.
The mites may cause you to itch (you'll notice a rash and bumps) in the following areas:
Within these bumps are nests for scabies mites that are hatching and growing. You might even notice burrows that show up as short, gray, zig-zaggy lines just under the skin's surface.
The mites are spread by close contact with someone who has scabies and/or by sharing that person's towels, bedsheets, and other personal belongings such as hairbrushes.
That being said, it often affects several family members at the same time. Toddlers and the elderly are more susceptible to it than others. It can be spread to another person before the symptoms of severe itching even appear.
If you've ever seen the mite through a microscope, from the top it kind of looks like a turtle, round to oval in shape and it has a head and four legs or arms. The appendages are not evenly spaced, though, they are all towards the front of the mite, two on either side of the head. Underneath, there are four more smaller appendages, two on each side. (see sketch)
For people who have never had it before, it might take awhile before they experience itching and skin sores. But if they've had it before, symptoms will usually start in a few days and can be diagnosed by a doctor. Part of the diagnosis may involve scraping some of the dry, itchy skin and analyzing it under a microscope.
If you have scabies, you and anyone you have close contact with have got to get treated for it. It doesn't just wash off. The itching and rash will just intensify and spread if you don't seek treatment. A doctor-prescribed lotion or cream applied to the skin will usually rid you of this condition. If the cream is ineffective, the doctor may prescribe some pills.
Even after treatment, the itching will usually go on for another few weeks. What happens is the mites cause an allergic reaction in your skin, and it will take your body awhile to get over the reaction, especially if all the itching you've done has caused a secondary infection, and lesions that are filled with pus.
This page is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a healthcare provider. If you have any questions about the condition described above or think that you might have a parasitic infection, consult a physician.