Childhood Diseases Common Illnesses Scabies

Scabies is caused by a microscopic mite called Sarcoptes scabei. These mites burrow into the skin and lay their eggs, causing intense itching and a pimple-like rash. Scabies is contagious and spreads through skin to skin contact, making the condition common in childcare centers, schools or nursing homes. It’s found in all geographic regions, and is not related to socioeconomic class. Keep reading to learn more about scabies.

Scabies Symptoms

A person can be infected with scabies long before the scabies rash appears. It’s actually possible to have scabies for up to two months before showing symptoms. It’s during this time that an infected person is contagious.

Severe itching is usually the first symptom, which is usually worse at night. The scabies rash consists of pimple-like, red blisters. These can be pus-filled and may crust over to become scabs.

Scabies prefer to burrow in body creases, including the underarms, fingers and toes. You may notice red streaks around the underarms, called Pastia’s lines. You might also find scabies rash along the inner wrists and underarms or around the genitals or buttocks. In young children and infants, signs of scabies are common on the face and neck area, as well as the palms of hands and soles of feet.

You may see marks caused by the female scabies mite’s burrowing. These are grayish-white or flesh-colored lines that can be raised in appearance. Scabies pictures show these marks to be sharp, crooked tracks.

Continuous, aggravated itching may cause sores to become infected. In some cases, this skin infection could lead to inflammation of the kidneys. Contact your child’s pediatrician if you’re concerned about these possibilities.

Scabies Mite - Sarcoptes Scabiei

Treatment: Scabies

Your doctor will take a scraping of skin to observe under a microscope. This will determine whether the scabies mites are present.

Your pediatrician will prescribe medicated lotion to treat cases of scabies. You’ll need to apply the cream to your child’s entire body, not just where the rashes are. Also, it’s important not to wash your hands after application to keep the scabies mites from spreading to you, as they particularly love to burrow in the areas between fingers.

The best time to apply the treatment is at night, before bed. The medicine will need to remain on the skin for eight to 12 hours to be effective. It’s likely that another treatment will be recommended a week after the first treatment begins.

Your child’s doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic for cases of impetigo or other bacterial skin infections caused by scratching. She may prescribe an antihistamine to help lessen the itching, and hydrocortisone may be used to speed healing.

Expect itching to cease in one to two days after beginning treatment, although some children may itch for weeks. You should see no additional signs of mite burrowing or infestation within 48 hours.

Treat each member of the household. Wash clothing, linens and towels in hot water, and be sure to vacuum the entire house. Throw away a vacuum bag if your unit has one. This should prevent the spread of scabies among family members.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (2008). Scabies. Retrieved December 26, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site:

Klein, J. (2008). Infections: Scabies. Retrieved December 26, 2009, from the Kids Health Web site:

MedlinePlus Staff. (n.d.). Scabies. Retrieved December 26, 2009, from the Med Line Plus Web site: