Scabies

Scabies is an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). The microscopic scabies mite burrows 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. The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.

Itís important to understand that a quick handshake, casual hugging or other incidental contact usually doesn't spread the infestation. 

Scabies is found worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes. Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent. Institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks. Child care facilities also are a common site of scabies infestations. Scabies infestation is not a sign of poor hygiene.

Scabies can be treated with products called scabicides. These products kill scabies mites; some also kill eggs. Scabicides to treat human scabies are available only with a doctorís prescription; no "over-the-counter" (non-prescription) products have been tested and approved for humans.

Always follow carefully the instructions provided by the doctor and pharmacist, as well as those contained in the box or printed on the label. Clean clothes should be worn after treatment. In addition to the infested person, treatment also is recommended for household members and sexual contacts, particularly those who have had prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the infested person. All persons should be treated at the same time in order to prevent reinfestation. Retreatment may be necessary if itching continues more than 2-4 weeks after treatment or if new burrows or rashes continue to appear.

Scabies mites do not survive more than 2-3 days away from human skin. Items such as bedding, clothing, and towels used by a person with scabies can be decontaminated by machine-washing in hot water and drying using the hot cycle or by dry-cleaning. Items that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned can be decontaminated by removing from any body contact for at least 72 hours.

If you think you have scabies, please contact your healthcare provider.


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Southeast Health District
1101 Church Street
Waycross, GA 31501
P: 912-285-6002
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