What is scabies?
Scabies is an infestation of the skin caused by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). These microscopic pests burrow into the surface layer of the skin where they live and lay eggs.
How do you get scabies?
Scabies can be spread through skin-to-skin contact with a person who has been infested by scabies. They can also sometimes spread through clothing, bedding or towels that have been used by someone with scabies.
The human itch mite does not actually bite or sting, but eats human skin and cell liquids.
How to Identify Scabies
Identification is made by examining the skin to determine the presence of the mite and by the typical symptoms of scabies. A doctor can diagnose scabies based on the symptoms and by examining skin scrapings of the infected area under a microscope. This can help identify if there are mites, eggs, or fecal matter. Scabies should be treated promptly to avoid spreading it to others.
What does scabies look like?
Scabies will look like a bumpy rash. It can be red or purple in color similar to hives, bug bites or pimples.
Individuals with scabies develop pimple-like rashes.
Scabies rash often develops on the wrist, elbow, armpit, nipple, waist, belt-line, buttocks, and between the fingers.
They can experience intense itching caused by the allergic reaction to the mites. The itching can also worsen in the evening.
Young children can experience rash symptoms anywhere above the neck, on the palms of the hands, and on soles of the feet.
Scabies sometimes leave noticeable burrows on the skin. The result of female tunneling, burrows looks like small, raised lines on the surface of the skin and may appear skin-colored or grayish-white. Burrows can be difficult to find if only a few mites are living in the skin.
Treatment for scabies usually involves either medication or applying a medicated cream or lotion that kills the mites and their eggs. Always seek the advice and care of a physician for treatment of scabies.
All clothing, bedding, and personal items used by the infected person should be washed in hot water and dried on a high heat setting to eliminate any mites.
Repeated scratching of scabies rashes can create skin sores that may develop bacterial infections.
Scabies on Dogs and Cats
The symptoms of canine and feline scabies (mange) are similar. Signs of scabies on pets can be seen on the skin of the ears, elbows, face, and the underside of the chest.
The onset is abrupt with scratching, hair loss, and inflamed skin in affected areas. Crusty ear tips also signify a pet has scabies. In the later stages, after prolonged infection, the skin becomes thick, crusted, scaly and darkly pigmented.