Diseases & Conditions


ScabiesCausesMedicationsPrecautionsRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Scabies?

Scabies is an itchy and highly contagious skin disease caused by an infestation by the small eight-legged parasites Sarcoptes scabies. These parasites are the itch mites.

Causes of Scabies

Scabies is caused by an eight-legged mite that is less than 0.5 mm long. Scabies is almost always spread by protracted skin-to-skin contact with a person who carries the mite. Not only direct contact but also indirect contacts can spread rabies. Using clothes worn by a person infected by scabies can also spread scabies. Sexual contact can also transmit this disease. Hence it is also a sexually transmitted disease.

Medication for Scabies

Proper medications can cure scabies. Lotions and oral drugs are used for curing this disease. Some of them are given below,

  • Insecticide shampoo
  • Insecticide cream:
    • Permethrin (Elimite, Nix)
    • Lindane 1% (Kwell, gamma benzene hexachloride)
    • Sulfur in petrolatum (2 -10%, with 6% preferred, cream or ointment)
    • Crotamiton 10% cream or lotion (Eurax)
  • Oral scabies medications:
    • Ivermectin (Stromectol)
  • Medications to reduce itching:
    • Hydroxyzine hydrochloride (Atarax)
    • Diphenhydramine hydrochloride (Benadryl)
    • Cyproheptadine hydrochloride (Periactin)
  • Topical corticosteroid creams for itching:
    • Clobetasol (Temovate)
    • Hydrocortisone (Valerate, Westcort)
    • Triamcinolone (Aristocort, Amcort)

Precaution for Scabies

Scabies is a very irritating disease and hence to be prevented than to be cured. There are a lot of precautions to keep scabies away. Taking bath in hot water is a primary precaution. It is very important to maintain personal cleanliness. It is also good to wash clothes and beddings in hot water. This can kill disease causing micro-organisms. People affected by scabies have to be taken special care. Avoiding physical contacts with them can also prevent the disease. Thus the disease can be prevented.

Risk Factors of Scabies

Skin contact is a major risk factor for scabies. People working in hospitals, pharmacies are in risk areas. HIV infection, AIDS also form risk factors. People living in crowded areas also get easily infected. Having multiple sexual partners may lead to this disease.

Symptoms of Scabies

The very common symptom of scabies is itching. This occurs especially at night. The following are some itching symptoms.

  • Itching worse after a hot bath or shower
  • Itching worse in bed
  • Itching under breasts
  • Itching around the nipples
  • Itching thigh
  • Itching between fingers
  • Genital itching

The etching results in skin rashes. The following are some skin rashes.

  • Hand rash
  • Rash between fingers
  • Wrist rash
  • Elbow rash
  • Lower abdominal rash
  • Genital rash
  • Scrotum rash
  • Underarm rash
  • Rash under breasts

Another indication that one may have scabies is if other members of the household are experiencing the same symptoms. People who have a weak immune system are easily affected by the disease. Animals like cats and dogs do not form a source of this disease. There are various medical tests to diagnose this disease. These tests are done in the hospitals or labs having the testing devices.

Treatment for Scabies

The treatment for rabies is taking clinically prescribed medicines. The medicines are mostly scabicide drugs. There are also lotions for the treatment. The lotions are to be applied to the areas infected by the disease. This can heal scabies. People affected by the disease have to maintain diets too. They shouldn’t take food items that may cause itching. The clothes and beddings of the infected person have to be washed in hot water.

Types of Scabies

Excluding the regular scabies, there is only one type of scabies which is Norwegian scabies also known as Crusted scabies. It differentiates it from the regular scabies by the number of mites present on an infected person. People with regular scabies will have 10 – 15 mites on an average while those with Norwegian scabies will have thousands to millions of mites.