What is scabies?

Scabies is a skin condition brought about by human scabies mites (Sarcoptes scabiei). These mites burrow into the skin and cause rashes, itchiness, and mite tunnels. Scabies is quite a common skin condition and can infect anyone.


Scabies can be contracted and passed on through direct and close skin contact. The mites can’t fly or jump, so they can only be transmitted if the infected skin brushes over another person’s skin. The disease may also be passed on via sexual contact.


Since the disease needs direct contact to spread, families often fall victim to scabies. It happens when one family member gets the disease and spreads inside a single home's confines.


The skin condition has two types: traditional and crusted or Norwegian scabies. We’ll differentiate them later in this article.


No matter what type of scabies infect you, it is essential to have yourself checked by a doctor to get the proper treatment and stop the spread of the scabies mites.


There are plenty of symptoms that generally appear in all scabies types. But the main one is itching that becomes worse at night during bedtime. This itch typically starts in the hands and intensifies as it spreads to other parts of the body.


The extreme itch accompanying scabies is often brought about by the skin’s reaction to the faeces, eggs, and saliva of the scabies mites. Remember that these mites burrow into the skin, lay eggs there,


Scabies usually spreads to any area in your body, except the head. Only those who are immunocompromised and the elderly and young populations are susceptible to getting infected by scabies at the head.


Here’s a list of all the possible symptoms you may experience if you have traditional scabies:


  • A worsening itch that intensifies at nighttime
  • A rash that looks bumpy, blotchy, and reddish in colour
  • Bumps that look like pimples or hives
  • Mite tunnels appearing on loose skin in the hands, wrists, and between fingers. These look like silvery or dark fine lines.
  • Secondary skin infections due to scratching the excessively itchy areas
  • Worsening of other skin conditions that infected the person at the same time as scabies did


Rashes brought about by scabies can be found in several areas of the skin. But the actual mites only stay on the wrists, hands, fingers, ankles, and feet soles. Scabies mites choose these locations because they can perfectly lay eggs and burrow into the skin in these areas.


Symptoms usually appear 2-6 weeks after initial exposure to the scabies mites. You’ll notice the symptoms earlier if you’ve already been infected by scabies before.


You might notice little pus-filled spots appearing on your skin as an added symptom. This indicates the presence of infection. You’ll undergo a course of antibiotics treatment as prescribed by your doctor to clear out the infection. Also, avoid scratching the skin with rashes and spots to prevent further spreading of the disease to other body parts and to other people.


Mobidoctor physicians can diagnose your scabies via online video consultation. Here, you can talk to the doctors through your preferred device, show them the rashes, and explain to them your symptoms. They can easily recognize the scabies rashes visually and can tell if you have a particular type of scabies.


Sometimes, scabies may look similar to eczema dermatitis. Your doctor may want to confirm the diagnosis through a procedure called skin scraping. A portion of the rashes on your skin is gently scraped and saved for viewing under a microscope. Scabies is confirmed if the results show eggs or actual mites in the skin sample.


Skin scraping is usually done by a specialist, so your Mobidoctor physician will prepare and send a referral request to facilitate this procedure.


Risk factors

Scabies easily spreads through close body contact. Hence, it is possible for people to get the disease in the following risky environments:


  • Shared homes
  • Prisons
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools
  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Hospice care facilities
  • Gym changing rooms


Norwegian scabies


A disease variant called Norwegian scabies/crusted scabies can be contracted by a person who has a weak immune system. This can also be easily picked up by the elderly, the sick, or very young children.


Norwegian scabies happens when thousands of scabies mites have infested the patient’s skin. This is quite a dangerous condition and is also highly contagious. Crusted scabies typically has less intense itching than the traditional variant, and its rash looks more like psoriasis rash.