Scabies is a very contagious but treatable skin disease. A very small bug (mite) causes it. The mites burrow into the skin, causing a very itchy rash.
Scabies mites live in human skin. They spread from person to person through direct contact or from clothing and bedding.
The main symptom of scabies is a very itchy rash. It appears as tiny blisters or bumps, which break easily when scratched. The blisters are usually in a thin line.
Although the rash can start anywhere, it often starts on the hands, between the fingers or in a crease of the wrist. Other common areas for the mites are the nipples, waistline, and male genital area. After the rash begins, it can spread within a few days to the whole body.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and whether you have been exposed to someone who has scabies. Your provider will examine your rash. He or she may get a scraping from your skin to look for mites under the microscope.
Your healthcare provider will prescribe a skin cream that has an insecticide in it. Usually the instructions for use of the cream are as follows:
The instructions for use of medicines for scabies vary somewhat, so be sure to check and follow the instructions that come with your medicine.
If you are pregnant, ask your healthcare provider what treatment you should use.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe an oral antihistamine medicine, such as Benadryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec, to help relieve the itching. You can also soothe itching by putting 1% hydrocortisone cream on your skin.
The treatment will not be successful unless everyone infected in your home is treated. All household items that may have mites on them must also be disinfected.
You will have itching and a rash for 2 to 4 weeks after your treatment with the cream prescribed by your healthcare provider. Continuing to have the rash does not mean that the treatment didn't work or that it needs to be repeated. The symptoms will not go away until your body sheds the layers of skin that contain the bodies of the mites, their eggs, and their droppings. Keep taking antihistamines as long as you have itching.
You may need a second treatment if:
Scratching the scabies rash can cause skin infection. If your rash gets worse, with more redness, more tenderness, or a yellow crust, see your healthcare provider to see if you have a bacterial skin infection and need antibiotics.