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What are Scabies?

Scabies is a contagious skin infection caused by a tiny parasite which burrows under the host's skin, causing intense allergic itching. 

What are the signs & symptoms of Scabies? 

The most common symptoms of scabies are small itchy lumps in the skin, often in the webs between fingers, along the sides of the fingers, or on the wrists or elbows. Other parts of the skin can also be affected, including genital skin.
Burrow can often be seen in the skin leading to the lump.
The itch is caused by an allergic reaction to the mites, and may start where the mites are but can spread to cause generalized itchiness.
Uncommonly scabies can cause slightly pigmented (colored) itchy nodules (deeper lumps in the skin).
Babies can catch scabies and sometimes have widespread eczema like skin symptoms, blisters and crusty scabs.
Crusted scabies is a condition where infected skin becomes thickened, crusted and scaly with many scabies mites present. When this occurs scabies is much easier to pass to other people, even after brief contact with infected skin. Crusted scabies is more common in people with immuno suppression such as HIV/AIDS, or on immunosuppressive treatments.

What is the treatment for Scabies? 

The most common treatments for scabies are lotions or creams applied directly to the skin. These may contain malathion, permethrin or benzyl benzoate. 
The doctor or pharmacist will tell you how long the treatment must stay on the skin before you wash it off, and whether you need to repeat the treatment.
Sometimes, a medication called ivermectin is given by mouth for severe cases. 
Antihistamine tablets can be given to control the itch.
Occasionally antibiotics are given by mouth if there is bacterial infection where scratching has damaged the skin. 
Nodules can last in the skin for several weeks after treatment has killed the scabies, and these may be itchy. A steroid cream can be applied to the skin to help the itch.

Find out more through this Patient Information Leaflet.

Download Patient Information Leaflets

Last update on 28 Nov 2013
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