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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is scabies?

Scabies is a skin condition that is caused by scabies mites. Scabies mites are tiny bugs that burrow, lay eggs, and live underneath the skin. Scabies is spread through close contact with a person who has scabies. This includes having sex, sleeping in the same bed, or sharing towels or clothing. Scabies can spread quickly and must be treated as soon as it is found.

What are the signs and symptoms of scabies?

You may not know you have scabies until a few weeks after mites are under your skin. Scabies mites are too small to be seen on your body. You may have any of the following:

How is scabies diagnosed and treated?

Your healthcare provider will examine your skin. He or she will put mineral oil on your skin and scrape it across with a small blade. The skin scraping will be checked under a microscope for eggs, mites, or their droppings. Your provider may want to treat scabies even if signs of mites are not found. Several kinds of medicine may be used to treat scabies. The medicine may be a cream or pill. Always follow the directions for the scabies medicine you are told to use.

What can I do to help the itching?

Your skin may continue to itch for 2 or 3 weeks, even after the scabies mites are gone. Over-the-counter antihistamines or cortisone cream may help relieve itching. Trim your fingernails so you do not spread any mites that are still alive after treatment. Do not scratch your skin. Scratches may cause a skin infection. A cool bath may also help relieve the itching.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How do I prevent the spread of scabies?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Learn more about Scabies

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.