What is it?
It is a contagious extremely itchy skin disorder that leads to a rash caused by the scabies mite.

What are the symptoms?

  • Mite tunnels or burrows
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Scratching
  • Aggravation of pre-existing skin conditions

What causes it?
Scabies is a relatively contagious infection caused by a tiny mite (Sarcoptes scabiei). This is parasitic meaning it lives off the host. It causes an extremely itchy skin disorder that leads to a rash. The mite lives off the skin and burrows into it which spreads to others through close skin-to-skin contact. The mite cannot jump or fly so spread is through close skin to skin contact.

Who is affected?
Scabies is common. In the UK about 1 in 1000 people develops scabies each month. It is more common in urban areas, in women and children (probably due to close contact), in the winter, and in the North of the country.

Scabies is endemic in many developing countries and a high level of prevalence go with poverty, over-crowding, and poor hygiene. It is most common in the autumn and winter.

How can it be diagnosed?
By careful clinical observation of the skin, identification of the burrows. The doctor may take a small scraping to be sent for microscopic observation if there is doubt of diagnosis.

Is there a cure?
Scabies is curable. Permethrin 5% dermal cream which is an insecticide that kills the mites is prescribed. Treatment may be required for itching which comes in the forms of creams, lotions or with oral medication.

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