Tell me more about scabies.
Scabies is a skin disease caused by an infestation of the skin mite, Sarcoptes scabei. It is a common infestation, and is especially frequent in group settings where direct contact is involved, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and day care centers.
How is scabies transmitted?
An infestation of scabies is passed from one person to another by close, prolonged skin-to-skin contact. While a brief hug or handshake will usually not transmit scabies, secondary infestations are common among household and intimate contacts of an infested person.
Because the scabies mite can survive for 2-3 days in the environment, it is also possible to get scabies from infested objects, such as clothing and bedding.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
The main symptoms of scabies are itching and a rash or pimple-like bumps on the skin. The rash and/or bumps are most common in the webbing between the fingers, the skin folds around the knee, elbow, and wrist, and the genitals. Skin sores caused by scratching can also form and become infected with bacteria.
A more severe form of scabies can be found in elderly persons and those with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms usually appear 4-6 weeks after the initial infestation, though a person who has been previously infested may show symptoms after several days. You cannot develop immunity to scabies.
How is scabies treated?
There are several anti-parasitic lotions available by prescription from your doctor. Most lotions will ask that you apply the treatment all over the body, followed by a shower eight hours later. You should launder all of your bedding and clothing that you used since showing symptoms in hot water followed by drying in a hot dryer.
How can I prevent scabies?
The most important thing you can do is to limit contact with a person infested with the scabies mite. Wash your hands and all clothing and bedding that an infested person may have come into contact with.
CDC Info on scabies:
MedlinePlus Info on scabies: