Scabies is an extremely contagious skin condition caused by incredibly tiny mites. The mites burrow into the skin, making small tunnels. These infections cause severe itching, and are spread through close personal contact.
Scabies infections cause a red itchy rash, often concentrated in creases and folds of skin, such as the palms, wrists, and genital areas. In children, the rash may also spread to the trunk, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. The rash is extremely itchy, with the itch worsening at night as the mites move throughout the body.
How It Spreads
Scabies is spread through close skin to skin contact. It was originally believed to be a sexually transmitted disease for this reason, but this has since been determined to be incorrect. It can be spread between family members, sexual partners, or others who share prolonged physical contact. The mites do not crawl quickly enough to spread through casual contact, such as shaking hands, but may be spread by sharing clothing or bedding with an infected person.
Scabies is treated by applying topical prescription creams, occasionally combined with oral prescription medication. These medicines act to kill the mites causing the infection. In addition, topical ointments and creams and antihistamines may be used to control the itching. If open sores have become infected, an antibiotic may be prescribed to control the infection.
If you or your child has been infected with scabies, it is important to avoid contact with others until the infection has been controlled. This will minimize the risk of spreading the infection to friends, family, coworkers, and playmates. Your doctor will be able to prescribe medication to control your infection, and will also be able to advise you as to how to clean and sterilize your home, clothing, and bedding to remove any surviving mites.