Human scabies is a skin disease caused by an infestation of microscopic mites. The mites burrow into the top layer of skin and lays eggs there which hatch in 21 days. The burrow can look like a pencil mark and is often difficult to see, and the scabies rash that occurs as a result is an allergic response to the mites.

The most common presenting symptom of a scabies infection is intense itching of the skin which is usually worse at night. A rash also usually appears with tiny sores or blisters that can become worse with scratching. Symptoms typically do not show up for 2 to 6 weeks, especially with a first infection. During this time, however, the infected person can still spread scabies to others which is why infection is so rapid and common.

How are scabies treated?

Treatment options include topical medications and for hard to treat cases, an oral antiparasitic drugĀ  may be prescribed. Along with treatment it will be recommended to wash all underwear, bed linens, sleepwear and towels in hot water followed by hot drying, and vacuum all carpets and upholstered furniture. This should also be done for all household members.