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What is scabies?

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Quick Answer

Scabies is an itching of the skin caused by the burrowing mite Sarcoptes scabiei, states Mayo Clinic. Scabies is contagious and itching may be more intense at night.

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Full Answer

Alongside itching, symptoms of scabies also include thin tracks of tiny bumps or blisters on the skin, according to Mayo Clinic. These burrows typically appear in folds of the skin such as between fingers, around the waist, in armpits, around breasts and on the knees. Scabies infestation often appear on the face, neck, scalp, hands and feet in infants and young children. Symptoms of scabies may take up to six weeks to appear for first-time infestations, and signs can show in people previously infected within a few days of exposure. Any sign of scabies requires doctor consultation.

Close physical contact and sharing bedding and clothing spreads the mite that causes scabies, explains Mayo Clinic. Prolonged scratching can cause complications such as impetigo to occur. Crusted scabies are a more severe form of scabies that may affect individuals with a lowered immune system. Crusted scabies are extremely contagious, cover large areas of the body and are difficult to treat. Medications such as lindane lotion, permethrin cream, ivermectin and crotamiton promptly kill mites, but the itching may continue for several weeks. Sulfur compounded in petrolatum may be used as an alternative to these medicines.

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