Public Health Fact Sheet
What is Scabies?
Scabies is a skin disease caused by the infestation of the skin by the “itch mite.” The microscopic mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. Symptoms usually occur 2-6 weeks after exposure.
How is Scabies spread?
Scabies is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact with infested individuals. It can also be spread during sexual contact or from contact with contaminated undergarments, bedding, or bedclothes.
How is Scabies treated?
Once Scabies is diagnosed, a lotion or cream containing a scabicide medication can be prescribed. Treatment is also recommended for all household contacts and sexual partners. Itching may continue for 2-3 weeks, even after proper treatment.
How can Scabies be prevented?
Infested individuals should be excluded from school or work for 24 hours after treatment. Bedding, clothing, and towels used by infested persons or their household, sexual, and close contacts should be decontaminated by washing in hot water and drying in a hot dryer, by dry-cleaning, or by sealing in a plastic bag for at least 72 hours. Scabies mites generally do not survive more than 2 to 3 days away from human skin.
Symptoms of Scabies
- Red, itchy rash commonly found between fingers, backs of hands, elbows, armpits, groin, breasts, penis, small of back and buttocks.