Definition of Scabies
Scabies is a contagious skin disease caused by a species of mite that is very small.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Scabies is found worldwide among people of all groups and ages. It is spread by direct contact with infected people and less often by sharing clothing or bedding. Sometimes whole families are affected.
Signs and tests
Examination of the skin shows signs of scabies. Tests include an examination under the microscope of skin scrapings taken from a burrow.
Prescription medicated creams are commonly used to treat scabies infections. The most commonly used cream is permethrin 5%. Other creams include benzyl benzoate and sulfur in petrolatum. Lindane is rarely used, because of its side effects.
Most cases of scabies can be cured without any long-term problems. A severe case with a lot of scaling or crusting may be a sign that the person has a disease such as HIV.
Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 10/11/2008