Scabies FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Scabies FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

scabies frequently asked questions

This is a list of real questions, from real people, about scabies.  I have tried to include every question that I have received about scabies. If you have a question that is not on this list, just leave a comment and I will answer it for you.

What are scabies?

Scabies (Sarcoptes scabiei) are parasitic mites that burrow under the surface layers of human skin, where they lay there eggs and reproduce. This causes an immune reaction, resulting in red bumps and rashes that look similar to acne.

What do scabies look like?​

Scabies have a fat round body with eight legs and a pincer-like mouth.

scabies mite

How is scabies diagnosed?

Scabies is diagnosed by scraping your skin with a glass plate and looking for scabies mites and there poop under a microscope. Another way that scabies can be detected, is by looking for the small grey lines in your skin that scabies make when they burrow. This symptom is unique to scabies and differentiates it from other skin diseases.

What is the standard treatment for scabies?

If you go to your doctor to get treated for scabies, he will prescribe you pesticide cream and/or oral pesticides. The most commonly prescribed drugs are permethrin cream, lindane lotion, Crotamiton, and Ivermectin. However scabies are slowly becoming resistant to these drugs, so many people are turning to natural remedies.

What do you do if the standard treatment doesn't work?

Scabies are becoming increasingly resistant to standard pesticide treatments. But, don’t worry. There are many effective home remedies that can be used to treat scabies. For example, studies have shown that clove and tea tree oil may be even more effective at killing scabies than standard treatments when applied topically.

How long after getting infected do symptoms start?​

The symptoms of scabies usually appear one month after getting infected. This is because it takes time for the first female mite to lay her eggs, (she lays 2-3 eggs per day) and it takes about 4 days for them to hatch. 

What is the life span of the scabies mite?​

The life span of a scabies mite is about 2 mouths. They have four stages in there life cycle. Egg, larva, nymph and adult. The eggs take about 4 days to hatch. The mite then transforms into a larva with only three legs and crawls to the surface of the skin and makes a small burrow called a molting pouch. After about 4 days it will transform into a nymph with 4 legs. Lastly it will reach the adult stage where it will have eight legs and begin to mate and reproduce. The adult stage lasts 1-2 months.

What is the fastest way to cure scabies?

In my opinion, the fastest way to kill scabies is with essential oils. Clove and tea tree work best. Mix 1 tablespoon of essential oils with 1/4 cup of coconut oil and rub it all over your body. 

How long are you contagious after you start treatment?​

You are contagious for as long as you have living scabies mites on your body. Even if your symptoms are gone it can be hard to tell if you have killed every last one. Despite this, doctors usually say that you can return to work the next day after you start treatment. 

What parts of your body do scabies infest?

Scabies infest everywhere from the neck down. The most commonly infested areas include the genitals, armpits, waist, knees, elbows, fingers, wrists, and upper back. Babies are also susceptible to scabies on the head and face. 

What do you do if your baby gets scabies?​

If you take your baby to the doctor and they are diagnosed with scabies, your doctor will want you to rub your baby with pesticide cream. But if you do not want to rub pesticides on your baby, you can use a home remedy instead. Take a tablespoon of essential oil (clove and tea tree works best) mix it with a quarter cup of coconut oil and rub this all over your baby’s body.

What do you do if you get scabies when you are pregnant?

The only thing that you need to do differently when you are pregnant, is avoid taking lindane and ivermectin, which are two commonly used treatments for scabies. If it were me, I would avoid all prescription drugs that are meant to kill scabies because they are basically all pesticides.

Are scabies contagious?

Yes, scabies are very contagious and spread easily from person to person. They are spread either through skin to skin contact or by touching something that a person with scabies has touched.

Why does my spouse still have scabies while I am cured?

There are a few possibilities. First, your spouse my not have continued treatment long enough to kill every last mite, and they have repopulated. Also, your spouse may have touched a contaminated item that caused them to be re-infested. Lastly, they may not have scabies at all, but have one of the many skin conditions that look similar to scabies.

Can you get scabies from your dog or cat?

Yes,  you can get scabies from your dog or your cat. The mite that infests humans, sarcoptes scabiei, infests many other different species of animals as well. When the mite infests dogs, it is called sarcoptic mange and when it infests cats it is called notedric mange.

How do you treat scabies in your dog or cat?

The treatments for scabies in your dog or cat is the same as it would be for humans. The only difference is that your dog or cat has lots of hair in the way. The best way to get around this is to put your pet in a bath and scrub them down with the treatment. One treatment you can try, is a mixture of two parts borax and one part hydrogen peroxide.

How many scabies mites are on your body?

My first assumption was that there would be hundreds of these microscopic mites, to cause rashes all over your body. But, there are usually only 10-15 scabies mites on  your body at a time.

Can scabies jump or fly?

No, scabies mites cannot jump or fly. They are only able to crawl. There bodies are designed for digging and burrowing.

Can scabies cause hives?

Scabies can cause a rash that looks very similar to hives. Hives or (Urticaria) is basically caused by an immune reaction from your skin that can be triggered by an allergen, or in the case of scabies, fecal mater (poop) underneath your skin.

Can you have scabies without feeling any itching?

Yes, In the early stages of scabies, you will not feel itchiness. The itchiness associated with scabies will usually come and go with the other symptoms like red bumps and rashes. 

Can scabies live on furniture?

Scabies can live on furniture for about three days until they starve from lack of food.

Can you get scabies by sitting on furniture?

Getting scabies by sitting on furniture is a lot less likely than from clothing or bedding, but it can still happen, so it is important that you clean your furniture as best you can when someone in your home has scabies.

Can scabies get on your face?

Typically, scabies do not infest anywhere above the neck in adults. However,  babies can get scabies anywhere on their body, including their face and scalp.

Can scabies get in your eyes?

No, there has never been a reported case of scabies infesting the eyes. Scabies only infest the top most layers of the skin.

Can scabies get in your hair?

Scabies cannot live in your hair for very long with out food (dead skin). Even if you have a lot of dandruff, scabies do not feed on it. They do not burrow into the scalp either, except in babies, where their scalp is very tender.

Can you see scabies?

No, Scabies are to small to see with the naked eye, at only a third of a millimeter long. You would need to look at the scabies mite under a microscope in order to see it.

Can scabies come back after treatment?

Yes, if you do not completely eradicate all of the scabies mites with treatment, they will slowly repopulate and you will need to restart your treatment.

Can scabies kill you?

No, nobody has ever died from scabies directly. Although scabies can leave open sores that can make it easier to get serious bacterial and viral infections.

Can you get scabies in your mouth?

No, Scabies cannot live in your mouth, there is to much water and enzymes present for them to survive in that environment. If a scabies mite happened to crawl into your mouth, it would most likely be swallowed and die in your stomach acid. 

Are scabies the same as bed bugs?

No, scabies and bed bugs are two different parasites. There are two main differences that separate them. The first is that bed bugs are much bigger, and visible to the human eye whereas scabies are microscopic. The second difference is that bed bugs suck your blood while sitting on top of your skin, and scabies feed on dead skin while burrowing underneath.

Is scabies curable?

Yes, scabies is completely curable with the right treatment.

Is scabies an std?

Yes, technically scabies is a sexually transmitted disease, but it can also be transmitted in many other ways as well.

Are scabies parasites?

Yes, scabies are parasites because they live off their host (humans) while being a detriment to there hosts survival. Whereas a symbiote lives off its host while benefiting them in some way. 

How common are scabies?

Scabies are very common, affecting 300 million people across the world today.

Are scabies the same thing as crabs?

No, crabs (pubic lice) are much bigger parasites, that grab onto the course hairs of your genitals and suck your blood.

What causes scabies?

Scabies is caused by touching a person who already has scabies, or by touching something that they have touched.

What are the symptoms of scabies?

The symptoms of scabies include red bumps and rashes all over your body. The most unique symptom of scabies is short grey lines in your skin (about an inch long) where the mites have dug tunnels (called burrows) to lay there eggs and reproduce.

What is crusted (Norwegian) scabies?

“Crusted scabies” is a term used to describe an infestation of scabies that is so bad, your skin literally turns into a crust. This is very rare, and only happens in people who have extremely weak immune systems already. 

How long does scabies last?

Scabies can last anywhere from a few weeks to the rest of your life. It depends on many factors, including what treatment you are using.

Does lysol kill scabies?

Yes, lysol will kill scabies, but it is recommended that you only use it for disinfecting your house, and never use it on your skin, because it will cause extreme irritation and burning.

Does bleach kill scabies?

Yes. In fact, bleach baths are a commonly used treatment for scabies. However, bleach is still a harsh chemical that can also irritate and burn your skin.

Does rubbing alcohol kill scabies?

Yes, rubbing alcohol will kill any scabies that it contacts, but it evaporates to quickly to penetrate  into your skin where most of the scabies are.

Does neem oil kill scabies?

Yes, neem oil is one of many essential oils known to kill scabies. It may also disrupt the mites hormonal and reproductive cycles making them unable to repopulate.

Does vinegar kill scabies?

Yes, vinegar can kill scabies by altering the ph of the skin. Here you can read more about how to use vinegar to kill scabies.

Does chlorine kill scabies?

Yes, chlorine is a pesticide that will kill scabies. It is not a recognized treatment for scabies though, and there is no scientific or even anicdotal evidince to show that it works.

Does sulfur kill scabies?

Yes, sulfur has been used for centuries as a topical treatment for scabies. You can get sulfur creams, soaps, or powders from amazon here. You can also use the juice of an onion which is very high in sulfur.

Are scabies dangerous?

No, scabies are not life threatening or dangerous unless you have a very weak immune system, in which case, you are susceptible to crusted scabies.

Are scabies the same thing as dust mites?

No, dust mites are not even a parasite. They are relatively harmless mites that live around your house and eat dead skin that is shed from people and pets.

Are scabies the same as lice?

No, lice are much bigger parasites that live on the surface of your skin in an area where there are lots of course hair to grab onto, like your head. They also suck your blood rather than eating your dead skin.

Can scabies live in bedding?

Yes, they can live for up to 3 days in your beding. Because of this, it is important that you wash your sheets and pillow cases everyday to avoid re-infestation.

Does cold water kill scabies?

Yes, water below 5 degrees fahrenheit will kill scabies on the surface of your skin. But in order to kill the mites underneath your skin the water would need to be much colder.

Can scabies come back after treatment?

Yes, scabies can come back after treatment, if you have not totally eradicated all of them. You can also be re-infested from unclean items in your home, that you forgot to wash or sterilize.

Can scabies cause fatigue?

No, if you are experiencing fatigue while you have scabies, it is likely due to something else. Although, the itching from scabies can keep you up at night, and cause fatigue from lack of sleep.

Can scabies be mistaken for eczema?

Yes, scabies looks very similar to many skin rashes, including eczema. You can tell them apart by looking for the grey lines that scabies make when they burrow into your skin.

Can scabies lay dormant?

No, scabies do not lay dormant. But scabies can repopulate if you do not completely kill all of them during treatment. Also, most treatments do not kill the eggs, which take about 4 days to hatch, so you will need to continue treatment, even after your symptoms have subsided.

Can scabies live on your clothes?

Yes, scabies can live for up to three days without a host, so it is important to change and wash your clothing everyday when you have scabies.

Can scabies cause bruising?

No, scabies do not cause bruising, only rashes, red bumps and grey lines.

Can you prevent yourself from getting scabies?

Yes, you can prevent yourself from getting scabies by avoiding people who have it. If you know that you are going to be around someone who has scabies, you can use any treatment or remedy meant to cure scabies as a method of prevention.

What do scabies eat?

Scabies feed on your dead skin.

What household items need to be cleaned when your family has scabies?

You will basically need to disinfect anything that you touch, to prevent scabies from spreading to your other family members. This includes door nobs, remotes, phones, refrigerator and sink handles. You will also need to wash towels, clothing, and bedding, every day.

When should you see a doctor?

You should go to your doctor right after you start seeing symptoms. It is always a good idea to rule out anything more serious, and to start treatment as soon as possible.

How often should you change your bedding?

Every day. If you do not wash your sheets and pillow cases every day, you can easily become re-infested with scabies because they can live on your bedding for up to three days.

Why do scabies itch more at night?

They don’t. The itching likely seems worse at night because you are trying to go to sleep and have nothing else to focus on.

Who is at risk of getting scabies?

Everyone is at risk of getting scabies, but babies and the elderly are especially at risk.

Will scabies go away on its own?

No, do not think that your scabies will go away by itself. It will just keep getting worse until you kill all of the mites through proper treatment.

Will scabies leave scars?

Yes, but only temporary scars. They will not usually leave permanent scars, unless something else gets into an open wound to cause it.

Will scabies die in a hot tub?

The heat from a hot tub will only kill the surface mites. The chlorine from a hot tub might be able to kill some of the deeper mites, but there are no studies to show this.

Will scabies die in the dryer?

It depends on how hot your dryer gets. In order for your dryer to kill scabies it would need get up to 122 degrees fahrenheit or hotter.

How far can scabies crawl?

Scabies can crawl anywhere, but they do not move very fast because they are so tiny.

Can scabies cause a fever?

No, scabies cannot cause a fever. Although, you might have flushed skin from the rashes.

Can you feel scabies crawling?

No, scabies are too small to feel anything. The crawling sensation is actually caused by an immune reaction that also causes red bumps and rashes.

What are others names for scabies?

Other names for scabies are, Sarcoptes scabiei and the seven year itch.

Can you get scabies on your groin?

Yes, the groin is one of the most common places that scabies infest.

What doctors specialize in treating scabies?

Dermatologists, specialize in treating skin conditions, including scabies. However, you could get the same treatments from your general physician.

What is the difference between scabies and chiggers?

Chiggers, are also parasitic mites like scabies. They burrow into the skin and cause red bumps and rashes. There are some differences though. Chiggers are bright red and instead of eating dead skin, they will secrete an enzyme that breaks down your cells into liquid that they can drink.

Can scabies be spread in public swimming pools?

No, scabies do not come to the surface of your skin when it is wet. Also public pools always have chlorine, which is a pesticide that can kill scabies.

Is it safe to shake hands with someone who has scabies?

No, skin to skin contact with a person who has scabies is the easiest way to catch it.

Can you prevent scabies from spreading?

Yes, the best way to stop scabies from spreading, is to start treatment right away, disinfect everything that you touch, and wash your bed sheets, towels, and clothes, at least once a day.

Can you get scabies from a massage?

Yes, if your masseuse has scabies , it is very easy to catch them from the repetitive rubbing involved in a massage. 

Are scabies affected by temperature?

Yes, Scabies mites start to die at temperatures below 5 degrees fahrenheit and temperatures above 122 fahrenheit. 

Will taking a hot sauna kill scabies?

A hot sauna will kill mites that are crawling around on the surface of your skin, but it is unlikely to kill the mites that are underneath your skin because saunas do not change the temperature of your inner body that much.

Can you get scabies from sharing clothing?

Yes, if you ware clothes that someone who has scabies, has worn, you will almost certainly end up with scabies yourself.

Why do they call scabies the 7 year itch?

They call scabies the seven year itch, because in the dark ages, before proper treatments were discovered, scabies would last for years on end without ever being fully cured. But, even today people suffer with scabies for years at a time.

How long have scabies effected humans throughout history?

Scabies have been around for a very long time. The earliest writing on scabies comes from Leviticus who wrote about scabies in the Bible (1200 BCE). Then in 1687 Bonomo and Cestoni discoverd the mite that caused the symptoms of scabies, now known as Sarcoptes scabiei. This marked the first time in history a deffinite cause had been found for a human disease.

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