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Facts About...


What is it?

Scabies is caused by mites, which are tiny insects that live only on the skin of people. The scabies mite burrows under the skin to lay eggs. The itchiness comes from the skin’s reaction to the mite.

How is it spread?

Scabies infestations result from direct contact with the skin of a person who has scabies or from sharing clothing, bedding or towels which may be infested. Mites cannot live away from the human skin for more than 3 days.

What do I look for?

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The most common sites of scabies infestation are...

Child Skateboarding

Mites are hard to see. White, curvy, thread-like lines, tiny red bumps or scratch marks on the skin are usually the only sign of infestation. The skin is extremely itchy and may be worse at night. It may take up to 4-6 weeks before you see the red lines or before the itching develops. Scabies does not usually affect the scalp or face. To find out if you have scabies, see your doctor.

How is it treated?

Medications are available to treat scabies, at the pharmacy, without a prescription. Directions should be followed carefully. DO NOT TREAT MORE OFTEN THAN RECOMMENDED.

Itching may last for 1-2 weeks after treatment. This is caused by the dead mites and eggs under the skin. It clears when the skin sheds naturally.


  • Collect all clothes, towels and bed linens used in the last 48 hours by the person – wash items in hot water and dry at hottest setting – items that cannot be washed, can be stored in an airtight plastic bag for 1 week, to kill the mites.
  • All family members and anyone who has had contact with the infected person should be treated for scabies to prevent further spread.
  • Children should stay home from school or day care until first treatment has been initiated.

How can I protect myself?

  • Treat all household contacts.
  • Keep fingernails short to help prevent infection caused by scratching.
  • Do not share clothes, towels or other personal items.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitizers when hands are not visibly dirty.
  • If you are ill, stay at home and isolate yourself from others.

February 10, 2015