Skin | Dermatology | Scabies (Disease)


Scabies is a contagious skin disease caused by a small mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. The burrowing of the mite causes intense itching that is worse at night. The infection can be easily spread through close contact amogst families, schools, child care centers or nursing homes

The primary symptoms of scabies are a skin rash, and intense itching that worsens at night or after a hot shower or bath. The rash consists of small red spots that look like tiny insect bites (called burrow marks), this rash can be mistaken for other dermatological conditions, for example, eczema. Burrow marks are usually in a small line of four or more.

Causes and Risk factors

Scabies is an infestation caused by the microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabiei. It is found worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes. Scabies spreads rapidly in conditions where there is frequent skin-to-skin contact between people, such as aged care facilities, childcare centres and residential facilities. The female mite, which is only a few millimetres long, burrows into the top layer of the skin where she lays her eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae after 10 to 14 days and travel back up to the surface of the skin. Female mites live for about two months, laying three eggs a day and travel up to three centimetres a minute.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Curing scabies is rather easy with the administration of prescription scabicide drugs. There are no approved over-the-counter preparations that have been proved to be effective in eliminating scabies.