Scabies: Symptoms & Treatments


Scabies Symptoms and Treatments Scabies is an itchy, irritating skin condition caused by the microscopic burrowing mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Because scabies is highly contagious, it’s good to know how to recognize signs, so you can treat the condition as quickly as possible.

What Causes it?

Scabies spreads when Sarcoptes scabiei migrate from one carrier to another. Like every type of lice, these tiny parasites tend to spread quickly through close personal contact in school classrooms, child care groups, nursing homes and among family members. For this reason, doctors sometimes decide to treat entire families or groups at one time.

What Are the Symptoms?

When someone develops scabies, they usually experience itching, along with irregular burrow tracks that look like tiny bumps or blisters on the skin. Although the parasites can target any part of the body, they tend to be found in the following places:

• In armpits
• Between fingers
• Around the waist
• On inner elbows
• Inside wrists
• On the soles of feet
• On buttocks,
• Around breasts
• Around the genital area in males
• On knees or shoulder blades

If you’ve had scabies in the past, symptoms can develop within just a few days of exposure. On the other hand, if you have never been exposed, symptoms can take up to six weeks to develop.

How Is Scabies Treated?

Scabies is treated with topical medications that kill the mites and eggs. While these medications typically work quickly, patients can experience continued itching for several weeks, even after the mites have died.

Since dermatitis, eczema and other skin conditions can also cause small, itchy bumps on the skin, it’s important to visit your doctor to determine the exact cause of any skin-related issue. It’s also important to understand that home remedies and over-the-counter medications will not eliminate scabies.

Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Written by Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Dr. Kenkare is a highly experienced clinician with a background in family medicine. As a founding member of PhysicianOne Urgent Care's parent company Happy Mountains, she is also our Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Kenkare provides guidance and leadership to our health care team, and is responsible for the review of clinical guidelines, decision tools, and outcomes to develop and implement strategies that will improve patient care and clinical quality.