What is scabies?
The mites that cause scabies burrow into the skin where they live and lay eggs. Scabies can affect anyone, but is most often found in children. It is also common in crowded environments, where skin-to-skin contact is frequent.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
Scabies causes a rash that has small, red, raised spots and is very itchy, especially at night. It is most common between the fingers and in the skin folds on the wrist, elbow or knee, but can appear anywhere on the body. In infants it can appear on the head, face, neck and body.
You should see a health care provider if the illness seems to be causing more serious symptoms.
How is scabies spread?
Scabies is spread from person to person by direct, generally prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has scabies. A quick handshake or hug will usually not spread the infestation. Scabies can also be spread by sharing clothing, towels, bedding and other personal items. The mites can live on clothing or other items for between 48 and 72 hours.
Scabies can spread quickly under crowded conditions where frequent skin-to-skin contact occurs between people, such as in child care facilities, nursing homes and shelters.
How is scabies treated?
Scabies can be treated by several creams or lotions that are available over the counter, at the pharmacy or prescribed by a health care provider. Follow the package label carefully. More than one treatment might be necessary.
Wash all bed linen, towels and clothing in hot water and dry in a clothes dryer on the hottest setting.
If someone in your house has scabies, every member of your household will probably have to be treated with medication. Be sure to follow the instructions included with the package.
How is scabies prevented?
Watch your child closely for signs of scabies if another child has it.
Do not share towels, linens, or clothes of people who are infected and make sure that infestations are treated quickly.